Pet First Aid: 5 Common Injuries & How to Treat Them

Abigail Blank - The Upside Blog |

by | Read time: 4 minutes

We baby-proof our cabinets, keep our first aid kit well stocked and make choices to create a safe environment for ourselves and children every day. Yet when you have a fluffy fur-baby in your home, you need to be aware of what dangers lurk around your house for them as well. It’s important to be familiar with the most common pet hazards and injuries and have a pet first aid plan for how to treat them, to help your pet live a long and healthy life.

Cast from Pet First Aid Kit on Leg of Injured Dog Lying on Blue Mat |

1. Fluffy ate what?

The risk of your pet eating a foreign object, like toys, shoes, or even furniture is not only annoying but a tremendous health risk. In fact, intestinal problems from ingesting a foreign object is one of the top claims received by pet insurance companies every year. Dogs are likely to eat toys, clothing, even rocks, while cats are at bigger risk for ingesting string and ribbon.

If you suspect that your pet may have ingested a foreign object or your pets is showing symptoms including repeated vomiting or refusal to eat for more than 24 hours, take your pet for medical attention immediately. While some objects are able to be passed, only a vet can be sure and can tell you what medical treatment, if any, is needed.

2. Is it poisonous?

It’s simple common sense that if your dog or cat eats medication meant for humans or ingests any common household cleaner, they are at serious risk of being poisoned. Yet, what many pet owners don’t know is that not only are many popular backyard plants potentially life threatening but foods like grapes, onions, chocolate and gum can be highly toxic to your cat or dog.

If your pet shows symptoms like vomiting, lethargy or disorientation, or you suspect they ate something poisonous call poison control and your vet immediately. Do not try to make your pet vomit, because you might be doing more harm than good.

3. Once bitten...

Bites from other animals is another very common pet injury. Larger dogs tend to have more visible physical wounds while small dogs and cats can have broken bones or internal organ damage. If the wound is superficial you can wash away any debris and cover it with a clean bandage until you can have a vet look at it.

Bites from cats can me more complicated. Their teeth create puncture wounds that can be hard to see and eventually become infected creating an abscess. If you find your pet has an abscess, be sure to have a vet check to see if your pet will need antibiotics and follow any instructions on keeping the wound clean.

4. Watch the toes!

For those of us who groom our pets at home, nail trimming is a delicate and nerve-wracking chore. It’s extremely important to make sure your pet’s nails do not get too long. Long toe nails get caught on carpets and blankets causing toe injuries, so you need to stay on top of the trimming. Long nails can also crack and at that point you need to take your dog or cat to the vet for medical attention.

If you accidentally trim too short and your pet’s nail bleeds, dip your pet’s nail in cornstarch to help clotting and keep an eye on it. Do your best to keep your pet from licking the affected toe or nail.  

5. When things heat up

Every summer we hear the same warning NOT to leave your pet in your car. But your car isn’t the only place where your pet can become susceptible to heat stroke or dehydration. If your pet stays outdoors during the day, be sure to provide multiple shaded areas and large quantities of water. You should also avoid exercising your pet during peak hours. If you’re going to walk your dog, consider early morning or waiting until the evening.

High temperatures not only carry a risk for heat stroke but many dogs suffer severe burns on the pads of their feet from hot sidewalks and roads. If your dog does seem overheated, like continual panting and lethargy, try to help them cool down by spritzing them with water and setting them near a fan. Of course, seek veterinary help any time you are concerned that your pet’s health may be in danger. 

Poisonous foods to avoid:

  • Chocolate
  • Onions
  • Grapes/raisins
  • Gum- with Xylitol

What to keep in a pet first aid kit:

  • Alcohol pads
  • Gauze
  • Antihistamine chewable tablets–children’s formula (consult your vet for dosage)
  • Cornstarch
  • Cotton swabs
  • Antibiotic ointment