All You Need is Love—And Preparedness: Celebrating National Pet First-Aid Awareness Month

April 1st, 2022


The right diet, exercise and vaccinations—not to mention ample hugs and kisses—are essential for keeping Rover robust—both in body and in mind.   

Preparedness is also key, however. Accidents happen. Dogs are always eating stuff off the ground. They get sores, which they can’t help but lick. And the vet isn’t always available, or affordable.  

We need to know what to do and have the right supplies on hand when our pups require medical attention.  

As April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, a time we dedicate to learning about how to provide emergency care to our beloved companions, we wanted to share a few tips on how to prepare and care for your pets in the case of an emergency.  

Prepare a First-Aid Kit

A pet first-aid kit is a must-have, of course, especially if you’re taking your pup with you to remote locales. A pet first-aid kit should include most of the items that you’d find in a first-aid kit for humans, including:

  • Phone numbers: of your primary vet and emergency animal hospital as well as Animal Poison Control (888-426-4435); a pet first-aid book (just in case you have no wi-fi access) that includes a step-by-step guide on how to administer mouth-to-snout CPR 
  • Gauze; non-stick bandages; adhesive tape; blunt-nose scissors; antiseptic wipes; non-latex disposable gloves
  • Antihistamines (like Benadryl); antidiarrheals/antinauseants (such as Kaopectate or Pepto-Bismal); antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin); hydrogen peroxide (3%) to induce vomiting
  • Rectal fever thermometer; eye dropper to administer oral treatments or flush a wound with antiseptic
  • Muzzle to cover pet’s head and prevent biting (a muzzle shouldn’t be used if your pet is vomiting)
  • Blanket or yoga mat to act as a stretcher

It’s absolutely critical that all medications and their dosages are cleared with your vet before they’re administered.  

Know Your Poisons and Toxins

More than 90% of pet poisonings occur at home and about 75% of the cases involved your pet ingesting something, so it’s important to know common toxins, the five most common of which are:

  • Chocolate
  • Insect bait stations
  • Rodenticides
  • Fertilizers
  • Xylitol (artificial sweeteners)

Learn to Recognize Symptoms

Should Fido consume something that is bad for him or hurt himself without your knowing, being aware of common symptoms is of course essential to providing prompt—and proper—care. As you know, dogs can’t tell you what ails them. According to experts, there are six red flags to look out for:

  • Vomiting or Diarrhea: Dogs vomit. Period. Vomiting every now and then shouldn’t ring an alarm bell. But frequent vomiting, blood in the vomit, diarrhea or stool—coupled with lethargic behavior or loss of appetite—is another matter. Foreign objects in the stomach, gastrointestinal illnesses or parasite infections could be the cause.
  • Loss of Appetite or Decrease Activity: Lack of appetite over a period of 24 hours should be a cause for concern. 
  • Urinating More or Less Frequently: Housebroken pets that wet indoors or in the middle of the night deserve attention. Dogs that don’t urinate as often as they usually do may have a urinary tract problem or bladder stones. 
  • Coughing: A persistent cough may be related to heart disease, worms or lung disease. This is serious and requires immediate medical attention. Kennel cough for puppies can lead to fatal pneumonia.
  • Hair Loss or Itchy Skin: Fleas, ticks, mange mites and ear mites or an endocrine disorder (a hormone imbalance) may be the cause.  
  • Stiffness, Lameness or Difficulty with Rising: Hip or spine arthritis, disc disease, ruptured ligaments, or hip dysplasia may be the underlying cause. Tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, can also cause arthritis.

Learn How to Handle Your Injured Pet

It’s also important to know how to handle your canine companion when they are injured or not feeling well.  

First, never assume that your loving friend will not bite or nip you when injured. Pain and fear can cause instinct to take over and your pet may display primal behaviors. Don’t try to hug or comfort your pet. Keep your face away from their face, as this may trigger fear or further injury.  

Perform an assessment of your pup’s injuries slowly and gently, and stop if they becomes agitated or aggressive. If possible, try to wrap any injuries before moving your pet. Call your vet or emergency animal hospital so they are prepared for the nature of the injuries when you arrive. Keep in mind that any first aid performed on your pet should be considered an intermediary measure pending examination by your veterinarian. Once you’re stabilized your pet, call your vet immediately for further guidance.

Lastly, Prevention

There’s no finish line to learning about how to care for your pet in an emergency. We need to stay calm and take the right course of action. Prior knowledge and preparedness is of the essence.

What’s also of the essence is preventative care and wellness. Dogs require just as much healthcare as humans, if not more. They are hypersensitive beings that need love and affection. And they depend entirely on you.   

Visit Happy Hound in Oakland for all you pet’s health and wellness needs, including professional dog grooming, award-winning dog training programs, safe and comfortable dog boarding, as well as doggie daycare and veterinary services. Happy Hound offers various areas to accommodate every size and temperament of dog. Dogs that stay at Happy Hound get access to fresh air, comfortable dog beds and enjoy the chance to socialize. Call or visit Happy Hound in Oakland, California, for all your dog and puppy care needs.