First Aid For Your Pet

Be prepared!

At home or on the road, a pet first aid kit can be worth its weight in kibble! Emergencies can occur anytime, so keep your kit updated and accessible. A small plastic box or even a plastic bag works well to hold all the supplies.

These supplies are for emergencies, please be sure to follow up with Aztec to see if additional treatment is necessary. If your pet is showing any signs of distress or you suspect you pet is seriously ill, contact Aztec IMMEDIATELY.


  • Telfa/ non-stick dressing – this is applied to superficial wounds that do not produce a lot of fluid
  • gauze squares (2″) – this is an absorbent dressing used to absorb wound fluid
  • Vetwrap/ Ace bandage – used to keep the above 2 in place. Take caution to not overtighten as serious injury can result
  • bandage tape – used to keep first 2 in place. Again, it is possible to cause serious injury by tightening too much
  • diphenhydramine/Benadryl (pills-25 mg, liquid 25mg/5mL, topical)
  • famotidine/Pepcid (pills-10 or 20mg)
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • betadine scrub/ antibiotic soap
  • Neosporin/ bacitracin
  • rubbing alcohol
  • eye wash/ saline
  • cotton balls
  • tweezers
  • scissors
  • thermometer
  • soft muzzle for dogs/E-collar for cats
  • emergency contact numbers


Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

  • 1-2 mg per pound (1 teaspoon or 1 capsule per 25 lbs.)
  • Use for allergic reactions to insect bites/ stings, contact allergies from plants, usually indicated by hives on the skin, swelling of muzzle.

Famotidine (Pepcid AC)

  • 5 mg per 10 pounds (1/2 tablet per 10 lbs.)
  • Use for stomach upset, settles the acid in the stomach.

Hydrogen peroxide

  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) per 5 pounds by mouth
  • Use to induce vomiting. Do NOT use in cats!
  • Check with a Veterinarian or with Poison control before giving

Betadine scrub/ antibiotic soap

  • Clean superficial wounds or scrapes.

Rubbing alcohol

  • Apply to pads and skin on abdomen for overheating.

Eye wash/ Saline

  • Use to rinse eyes, or wounds.

Topical Antibiotic (Neosporin)

  • Apply to superficial wounds.


While it is important not to self-diagnose your pet’s symptoms, you must first assess the situation. Next, stabilize your pet, and then take your pet to a veterinarian. STAY CALM. Don’t panic. When you’re calm, so is your pet. Also, you’ll be able to accurately describe the incident and the symptoms to your veterinarian who can then better assess your pet’s condition. Ask someone else to call your veterinarian so you can focus on administering first aid to your pet. Restraint of an injured pet is pivotal, muzzle your dog/put an E-collar on your cat unless it has difficulty breathing, is unconscious, or has a mouth injury.

Broken Bones: Your pet is limping or favoring a limb.

Muzzle your dog. Use an E-collar for your cat and manipulate the head away from you as you place it in a padded carrier. Go to the clinic immediately. Pelvis fractures may not be readily apparent.

Burns: Your pet’s skin has obvious signs of burns or has come in contact with a known caustic agent. Again, restrain your pet. Flush burns with cold water or apply a wash cloth cooled with ice water. Go to the clinic within the hour; or immediately if electrocution was the source of injury. Bring the chemical agent with you, if possible.

Intoxication: If your pet has ingested a toxin or irritant (drooling, pawing at the mouth, swallowing excessively). Call Animal Poison Control (888) 426-4435 immediately. Try to bring the packaging for the suspected toxin. If immediate Veterinary care is not available, induction of Vomiting may be recommended. Contact Poison control or Aztec prior to doing so as induction of vomiting is harmful in certain cases of intoxication.

External Bleeding/penetrating wounds: Don’t forget to restrain your pet for both of your protection. Then, firmly press thick gauze on the wound until clotting occurs. Apply a tourniquet between the wound and the heart only if profusely bleeding. In the latter case, loosen the tourniquet every 15 seconds. Go to the clinic immediately. If there is a deep injury to the chest, wrap the chest in Saran/plastic wrap while transporting the animal to the nearest Veterinary facility. This may help prevent or lessen a possible complication known as pneumothorax (collapse of the lungs).

Internal Bleeding: Your pet is bleeding from the nose, mouth, ears, or rectum, is coughing blood, has blood in urine, pale gums, collapses, or has a weak or rapid pulse. Keep your pet as warm and as quiet as possible. See if your pet is responsive when its name is called. Go to the clinic immediately.

Eye Injuries: If a pet is squinting or pawing at its face/eyes, the eye must be protected immediately. Self-induced, vision threatening eye trauma is common and can be inflicted very rapidly by a pet with an uncomfortable eye. If there is obvious debris in the eye or there has been contact with an irritant, sterile saline can be used to gently rinse the eye. An e-collar should be placed and immediate Veterinary attention should be sought.

Snakebite/Envenomation: Rattlesnake bites are always an emergency. The prognosis is best with rapid stabilization and administration of Antivenin. The patient should be kept as quiet as possible. Application of tourniquets or suctioning the bite site are not helpful and may make things worse by fostering infection. Even dogs that have received the Rattlesnake vaccine should be treated as an emergency.

GI Distress (vomiting/diarrhea): Mild signs with no alteration in appetite or energy level -> contact Aztec if it persists more than 6 hours. Mild signs such as decrease in appetite, fecal urgency, multiple vomiting episodes -> evaluate that day. Moderate signs such as not eating at all, depressed, blood in stool or vomit -> evaluate within a few hours. Severe distress such as large amount of blood in feces or vomit, distended abdomen, weakness, non-productive attempts at vomiting -> immediate evaluation.

Seizures: Do not attempt to place your hand in their mouth. Try to protect them from injury. Comfort them as they emerge from the seizure. Short seizure (less than 2 minutes) -> call Aztec to discuss. Long seizure (2-5 minutes) -> evaluate that day. Very long seizure (>5 minutes) -> immediate evaluation. Cluster (more than 1 seizure in 1 day even if short) -> immediate evaluation

Difficult, labored, or excessively loud breathing: this is always an emergency; immediate evaluation

Respiratory and/or cardiac arrest: follow the ABC’s (Airway, Breathing, Cardiac function). If not breathing start with the Heimlich maneuver. If no foreign body dislodged and/or still not breathing give rescue breaths. Pull tongue out, extend head and neck, clear mouth of debris, blow into nostrils and watch for a rise in the chest. If no rise reposition head/neck and try again. If still no rise repeat Heimlich. Administer 20 breaths per minute. Check for heart beat and initiate chest compressions. Lay pet on right side. Feel for heartbeat where the elbow of the bent left forelimb crosses the chest. Compress chest at least 30% of total width. Compress at rate of 3 compression per 2 seconds. Compress 30 times, give 2 breaths, then repeat.

Benoit Bouchet, DVM (and Rita)

Benoit Bouchet, DVM (and Rita)