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First aid for pets

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Like humans, nearly all animals will experience some form of health problem or medical emergency in their lifetime. It is up to responsible owners to ensure pets
receive appropriate first aid and vet treatment.

When giving first aid to a pet, your personal safety is paramount. Always be aware of possible fear and aggression your pet may be experiencing, as this may result
in it trying to bite you. You should use hand-made muzzles or towels to prevent this.

The ABC rule provides guidance on what to do if your pet is injured or falls ill, and it is simple to follow and easy to remember.

ABC stands for:
Airways: Is anything blocking the animal’s airway?
Breathing: Is the animal breathing clearly?
Circulation: Can you feel a pulse or the heart beating?
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, contact the vet immediately.

Click on the tabs below for details on how to deal with common emergency situations.





Most wounds require antibiotic treatment, which can be provided by your vet. If the wound is bleeding, apply pressure and ensure the area is cleaned with saline and all dirt or debris is removed. Apply a firm bandage and seek vet treatment if the wound continues to bleed.


If your pet has been poisoned, contact your vet immediately. It is crucial that you act fast because poisoning can cause death.


Insect bites require vet treatment. Minor symptoms include swelling, but in severe cases insect bites can result in respiratory distress and even death. If your pet is bitten by a snake, keep it still and contact your vet immediately. Symptoms of a snake bite include anxiety, respiratory distress, shallow breathing and blood in urine.

Click here to view more information about snake bites.


If your pet receives heat or chemical burns, flush the area under cool running water for at least 10 minutes and seek advice from the vet.


Use your voice to calm your pet but do not try to stop the seizure. Make sure the animal cannot hurt itself and seek vet advice if the seizure lasts for more than five minutes.

By putting together a first aid kit for your pet, you will be well prepared if it is injured or falls ill and will always have emergency supplies on hand.

More information
RSPCA Burwood East Vet Clinic 
P 03 9224 2222

RSPCA Peninsula Vet Clinic
P  03 5978 9000

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