Emergency Situations

If your pet:

  • Has ingested a poisonous or toxic substance - contact the at 1-888-426-4435 (available 24/7 in the US).
  • If your pet is suffering from heatstroke - take steps to begin to cool it down (as outlined in the heatstroke link) and immediately take your pet to the closest veterinarian or animal hospital - Sugar Land Animal Hospitals, Houston Animal Hospitals.
  • Is choking, try to quickly remove the foreign object by gently opening their mouth, pulling the tongue forward and sweeping with your fingers.  If your pet begins to wheeze and struggles to breathe perform the steps outlined in this video.
  • Has stopped breathing, start CPR and have someone drive you to the closest veterinarian or animal hospital - Sugar Land Animal Hospitals, Houston Animal Hospitals.  Ideally, keep performing CPR while being driven to the vet/hospital.
    • These two videos are great resources for learning how to perform pet CPR: Pet CPR and Dog CPRNote:  These are detailed instructional videos not intended for quick reference
    • We recommend you install the American Red Cross Pet First Aid App on your cell phone or tablet for quick access to emergency care instructions and videos.

First Aid

The AVMA (American Veterinarian Medical Association) has some great articles on First Aid Tips for Pet Owners, which include articles on How to Handle an Injured Pet, Basic Pet First Aid Procedures and First Aid When Traveling with Your Pet.  We encourage all pet owners to read these articles. 

If you have a cell phone or tablet, we also recommend you install the American Red Cross Pet First Aid App for quick access to emergency and first aid instructions and videos.

Pet First Aid Kit

If you own a pet, you should have a basic pet first-aid kit in your home.  Keeping a second first-aid kit in your car, which you can also take on vacation if you are traveling with your pet, is also a good idea.

Most large pet-supply stores sell pet-specific first aid kits, but you can modify a human first aid kit for your needs or create your own kit, which should include the following items:

Pet-Specific Supplies
  • Pet first-aid book.  The book The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats by Amy D. Shojai is a well-rated book
  • Phone numbers: your veterinarian, the nearest emergency-veterinary clinic (along with directions!) and a poison-control center or hotline (such as the ASPCA Poison-Control Center, which can be reached at 1-800-426-4435)
  • Paperwork for your pet (in a waterproof container or bag): proof of rabies-vaccination status, copies of other important medical records and a current photo of your pet (in case it gets lost)
  • Nylon leash.  For cats, a body harness is preferable
  • Self-cling bandages (a bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur—available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogs)
  • Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting (don't use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing or otherwise having difficulty breathing)
Basic First Aid Supplies
  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
  • Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Gauze rolls
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
  • Ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
  • Rectal thermometer (your pet's temperature should not rise above 103°F or fall below 100°F)
  • Scissors (with blunt ends)
  • Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
  • Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies) 
  • Tweezers
  • A pillowcase (to confine your cat for treatment)
  • A pet carrier
Other Useful Items
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), if approved by a veterinarian for allergic reactions. A veterinarian must tell you the correct dosage for your pet's size
  • Ear-cleaning solution
  • Expired credit card or sample credit card (from direct-mail credit-card offers) to scrape away insect stingers
  • Glucose paste or corn syrup (for diabetic dogs or those with low blood sugar)
  • Nail clippers
  • Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
  • Penlight or flashlight
  • Plastic eyedropper or syringe
  • Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) to clean the thermometer
  • Splints and tongue depressors
  • Styptic powder or pencil (sold at veterinary hospitals, pet-supply stores, and your local pharmacy)
  • Temporary identification tag (to put your local contact information on your pet's collar when you travel)
  • Towels – hand and bath size
  • Needle-nosed pliers
Additional Advice
  • In addition to the items listed above, include anything your veterinarian has recommended specifically for your pet.
  • Check the supplies in the first-aid kit occasionally and replace any items that have expired.
  • For your family's safety, keep all medical supplies and medications out of the reach of children and pets.