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Pet health emergencies

No one wants to think about a pet having an emergency, but a well designed pet emergency care plan will allow you to rest easy and know that you can handle any situation that arises. Here are the top five tips for handling common pet health emergencies.

Tip #1: Choose a vet who offers 24-hour emergency pet care.

Injured dog

Don’t wait until disaster strikes before you look for a good veterinarian. Get a head start on your pet emergency care plan by enlisting the services of an excellent veterinarian or veterinary hospital that offers 24-hour emergency pet care. The last thing you want is to be scrambling around on the Internet while Mr. Fluffykins is choking on a hairball and needs your attention.

Tip #2: Learn pet first aid & CPR.

Many good pet first aid workshops are available, including the Red Cross Pet First Aid Certification, that teach the basics of pet emergency care and provide expert guidance on what to do in natural disasters. Learn how to do CPR and the Heimlich maneuver for pets, as well as how to handle everyday pet emergencies such as bite wounds, bleeding, burns, allergic reactions, choking, heatstroke, vomiting and sudden illnesses.

Tip #3: Have a pet first aid kit available at all times.

Most of us have a first aid kit for humans at home, but what about your pets? Plan ahead and have a fully stocked pet first aid kit ready for action. You can buy a basic kit online or assemble one yourself with this easy checklist:

  • List of emergency phone numbers

  • Pet’s medical records
  • Sterile gauze pads and roll gauze
  • First aid adhesive tape
  • Nonstick bandages
  • 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Q-tips
  • Eye dropper
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Cortisone cream
  • Children’s liquid Benadryl
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Latex gloves
  • Muzzle
  • Leash

Tip #4: Stay calm & administer care.

Dogs and cats are very good at hiding signs of illness, so stay alert to any subtle clues. In case an emergency arises, you are now more than prepared to handle it — so stay calm. Stay with your pet. Remember what you learned in your pet first aid workshop and administer care as necessary.

Tip #5: Call the veterinarian.

In case of a serious pet emergency (heatstroke, severe bleeding, burns, broken bones, bite wounds, poisoning, seizures, etc.), seek veterinary attention immediately. Administer first aid to your pet as needed before transporting your pet to the hospital for professional care.


Elaine Acker, CEO of Pets America, demonstrates the proper technique for performing CPR on pets.

More pet health tips

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Top 5 signs your pet is ill
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