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Pet first aid

For many people, a pet is a member of the family – so it is important to plan for pets’ safety in emergency situations. 

Learn first aid for pets

Preparation is everything.

Learning some basic pet first aid is very useful. Checking your pet's pulse rate and temperature can often help determine if your pet is experiencing an emergency situation. The pulse rate should be strong and regular. Normal resting pulse and heart rates are: cats: 150-200 bpm; small dogs: 90-120 bpm; medium dogs: 70-110 bpm; and large dogs: 60-90 bpm.

It's also good to know that the normal temperature for dogs and cats is 37.77 °C (100 °F) to 39.17 °C (102.5 °F).

Find out how your local vet handles emergencies. Is there someone on call at all times? If not, identify the nearest place where should you take a sick animal, night or day. Your local RSPCA may be able to help (or SSPCA in Scotland) . 

The RSPCA also offers comprehensive advice on all aspects of caring for your pet. Vets Now also offer advice on emergency care, first aid training for pet owners and useful information on health matters.

Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and securely fastened, up-to-date identification that includes your phone number.

Assemble a first aid kit of basic supplies: gauze pads, gauze roll/bandages, a thermometer, tweezers, scissors, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, an instant cold pack, rags/rubber tubing for a tourniquet and an animal first aid book.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home offers first aid advice for pets – as does Safer Pets.

Make sure your pet is insured so that the bills for treatment won’t be a shock.

What to do when pets need first aid

Remember that if your pet is sick or injured, you should handle it with care and caution. Even the friendliest animal can bite when it is distressed and may need to be restrained and muzzled. Dog and cat bites can rapidly become infected, so seek medical attention quickly.

Give basic first aid and take your pet to the vet immediately, if you can.

After the incident

When the immediate danger has passed, have a think about what you could have done better for your pet – and prepare for the next time.

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