Pet First Aid

Pet First Aid

Most people think in terms of human suffering when they hear the words “medical emergency,” – but there are approximately 8 million cats, 6 million dogs and a large variety of other pets in Canada. So one of the special education sessions at the 2019 Emergency Preparedness Trade Show was pet first aid. 

Megan Woelders is a registered veterinary technician (nurse) at Van Isle Veterinary Hospital in Courtenay. 

“Sometimes it is hard to get to the clinic right away and there are things that they can do at home to help their animals. It is always a good idea to still get your animal to the vet, to make sure everything is still okay, but taking care of them at home is a good idea,” says Woelders.


“ … Put some direct pressure … on the supplying artery. We don’t ever want to use tourniquets unless it is a last ditch effort. Tourniquets are used for people a lot because it is hard to get to the vessel that is causing the major bleed, whereas for dogs and cats it is easier to locate those vessels. Pressure is more of an option. With tourniquets they usually end up losing their leg.”

“ … Internal bleeding … requires immediate veterinary attention.” 

“Any wounds on the feet, tail, head, ear … can have a bandage applied.”


“Toxicities are common emergencies that we see frequently: lilies, chocolate, recreational drugs. Many can be fatal. The culprits are mainly found in an around your home. You should definitely be calling your vet, but you can do some vomiting at home. This is one of the first things your veterinarian is going to recommend at the clinic anyway. This can be done with hydrogen peroxide. It is always a good idea to get the dose from your veterinarian … 

Bee Stings or Allergic Reactions

“Bee stings or allergic reactions to anything are another common occurrence. While uncomfortable for the animal, nine times out of ten they are not necessarily emergencies unless the animal goes into anaphylactic shock. Benadryl can be administered to help ease the discomfort. Again, you need to be phoning your veterinarian for dosage instructions based on the weight of your animal …”  

“… Monitor for facial swelling. If it occurs, it is a good idea to bring them in right away because that can close off their throat. 

Pet First Aid
Lucy seems to not be feeling well today by Osseous via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Heat Stroke

“Heat stroke is really common in the summertime, even if you are not leaving an animal in a hot car – which I hope most people don’t do anymore … Some symptoms are panting, restlessness, drooling, an increasing rest rate, staggering, vomiting: the list goes on. 

“The first step is getting out of the heat and start actively cooling them by placing wet cold towels on the animal. Do not use ice packs. Ice on a dog will actually constrict the blood vessels, which will result in a decreased blood flow and not help decrease the core body temperature. The next step is to bring him in to the vet.”  

Disaster Kit

Megan also has some suggested additions to your Grab and Go Bags for animals:

 “Always pack in your animal First Aid kit, if you have one, as well as any medications your animal might be on. So, for example, it is a good to have a 48 hour supply for a dog on heart medications or a cat on thyroid medications.” 

Some other items: water; food; leases and a muzzle; pillow cases for transporting cats; blankets and towels; A list of emergency numbers (animal poison control, .

Health, Cats, Dogs, Pets, Disaster Preparedness Tradeshow, Disaster Preparedness, Grab and Go Bag, Pet First Aid, your phone number, your vets phone number etc)

Top photo credit: Wet Cat by Justin S. Campbell via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Theme song: Rick Bockner – “You Gotta Think For Yourself.”

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