The A-Z of Pet First Aid and CPR

Pet first aid is an important part of being a responsible dog or cat guardian. Knowing what to do in an emergency can make all the difference between life and death for your pet. Use this handy guide to learn how to provide CPR, use an oxygen mask, and more!

A: Airway

The airway is the path that air travels to reach the lungs. If a pet's airway becomes blocked, he or she will not be able to breathe properly and could die. Signs of an obstructed airway include:

  • Gagging or drooling (when dogs are puppies)
  • Coughing and wheezing (cats)

An obstruction may occur in any part of your pet's mouth, nose, or throat--or even farther down into their lungs. Blockages can be removed; however, if they completely block all airflow through the mouth and nose, they can cause death within minutes if not removed immediately by someone trained in CPR. If you find yourself with an unconscious animal whose breathing has become labored as a result of inhaling food particles during eating or drinking water too quickly without swallowing properly first...

B: Breathing

If your pet is not breathing, start CPR. If they are breathing but not normally, you need to see a vet immediately. If they are breathing normally, continue with first aid.

An unconscious animal can have an obstructed airway; if this happens, you should open its airway using one of these methods:

  • Jaw thrust (also known as the jaw lift) - tilt the head up by placing one hand under the muzzle and lifting gently until the mouth opens wide enough for you to see inside it
  • Chin lift - place one hand just below where the neck meets the skull so that your thumb rests on top of the lower jawbone and your fingers wrap around behind both sides of this bone; then lift gently until the mouth opens wide enough for you to see inside

C: Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

CPR is a lifesaving technique used to treat an animal that has stopped breathing. If your animal stops breathing and has no pulse, you should perform CPR on him or her immediately.

CPR can be used to treat animals that have suffered a heart attack, are having a seizure, or have had a stroke. The first step in performing CPR on your pet is ensuring that he or she is unresponsive and not breathing normally before beginning the procedure. If you notice any signs of injury such as bleeding or bruising around their mouth then take them to see your veterinarian immediately because this may indicate serious damage has been done internally which could result in death if left untreated

D: Defibrillation

To use a defibrillator, follow these steps:

  • Check the machine to make sure it's working and has been plugged into an electrical outlet.
  • Check the patient's airway, breathing, and heartbeat (if necessary). If they are not breathing or have no pulse, call your veterinarian immediately!
  • Remove any clothing that may get in the way of using the device on your pet; don't touch them directly with your hands unless absolutely necessary such as when removing clothing items from around their neck area so they can breathe properly while being treated by emergency personnel once they arrive at the scene after being called by someone else nearby who heard their cries for help when trying unsuccessfully so far unsuccessfully themselves earlier before finally calling your vet too late unfortunately though thankfully not fatally yet still hopefully just barely enough time left for them both still alive either way though both will probably need some medical attention afterward if possible before leaving here now..."

E. External Pupillary Measurement (EPM)

E. External Pupillary Measurement (EPM)

To measure the size of your pet's pupils, you can use a flashlight, penlight, or other bright light source. Hold the light about 1-2 inches from your pet's eyes and look for equal-sized pupils. If one pupil is larger than the other, it may indicate head trauma and the need for immediate veterinary care. You can also check eye size with your fingers by having someone else take over if this is hard for you to do alone: place one finger on each side of their nose so that they cannot move their heads while looking at their eyes through each opening between your fingers (see diagram below).

F. First Aid Kit

  • List of supplies in a first aid kit
  • How often to check the first aid kit
  • How to store the first aid kit
  • Where to keep your pet's first aid kit (in case of an emergency)

You should also have a basic human first aid kit on hand, as well as information about where you can find additional supplies if needed. Remember that when keeping medications for pets, they should be stored away from children or people with allergies.

G. Glucagon for Diabetic Emergencies (GDE)

Glucagon is a hormone that raises blood sugar. It's given by injection and can be used to treat hypoglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Aspirin can be used to treat minor pain, as well as heart attacks in dogs and cats. Aspirin has antiplatelet properties, so it inhibits platelet aggregation, making it an antithrombotic drug. It also inhibits COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes involved with inflammation responses at low doses; at high doses aspirin becomes pro-inflammatory! At low doses, aspirin acts as an analgesic for headaches or other mild aches/pains but at higher doses will cause stomach ulcerations due to its irritant effect on the mucosa lining of the gastrointestinal tract!

H. Hot Water-Aspirin (HWA) for Heart Attacks in Dogs and Cats

H. Hot Water-Aspirin (HWA) for Heart Attacks in Dogs and Cats

If your dog or cat is experiencing a heart attack, stroke, or other type of heart problem, you can use a combination of aspirin and hot water to relieve pain and swelling in their chest. The correct dose is 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight, given every 6 hours until symptoms improve or go away completely. You can make an HWA solution by dissolving one adult human aspirin tablet into 2 ounces of very hot water; let cool slightly before giving it to your pet. Do not exceed 2 tablespoons per day for cats or 4 tablespoons per day for dogs; if these amounts are exceeded call your vet immediately!

I. Indications for CPR, DNR orders & Advanced Directives

  • CPR for pets is not always necessary. If you have any doubts, please consult with your veterinarian.
  • When CPR is indicated, it's important to know how to decide whether or not you should perform the procedure on your pet. The best way to do this is by asking yourself these questions: Is my pet unconscious? Does he/she have no heartbeat? Is there breathing (or gurgling)? If the answer is "no" or "I don't know," then your pet needs immediate veterinary care! Call us immediately at 1-800-123-4567 and we'll rush over so we can help him/her breathe again! But if all else fails and there are no signs of life whatsoever--then yes indeedy--you should definitely try performing chest compressions on them until help arrives because otherwise they will die from lack of oxygenated blood flowing through their body which would really suck big time especially since they're so young too...

J. Jaw Thrust to Open an Obstructed Airway You can also use sternal rubs, chest compressions, and back blows to clear the airway of an unconscious pet with a blockage.

Jaw thrusts are a bit different from the head tilt technique. While both involve tilting the animal's head back, the jaw thrust involves pushing the jaw forward, up, and out to open the trachea, allowing air into the lungs and preventing asphyxiation. This is preferable to the head tilt technique with cats and dogs because it can cause spinal injury if done incorrectly.


As you can see, there are a lot of different things you can do in the case of an emergency. I hope that this article has helped you understand what your options are and how to respond when it comes time for action. If your pet ever needs First Aid or CPR, don't hesitate--just follow these steps!


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