Lucerne Veterinary Hospital Blog

Emergency First Aid Care: Part 2

emergency first aid

What can you do in the event of a pet emergency? This entry is a continuation from last week’s emergency first aid article. Last week we addressed traumatic injuries, toxins, and seizures.

Eye Injuries

If you notice your pet’s eye has been dislocated from its socket and the lids can no longer close over the eyeball (known as a proptosis), make sure to keep the eye moist by applying KY jelly or contact lens saline solution before bringing her to your veterinarian. This is an emergency that requires immediate surgery. If your pet has received an irritant in her eye, flush it for 15 minutes with contact lens solution or running water, and monitor closely for any persistent discomfort. Do not remove any foreign bodies that may be impaling the eye. Use an e-collar if you have one available to prevent your pet from traumatizing her eye. Be sure to bring your pet to your veterinarian right away, as the eye is a fragile organ. Severe ocular injuries may require care by a board-certified ophthalmologist.

Heat Stroke

Signs of heat stroke include excessive fatigue, panting, or collapse after spending time in a hot environment. If your pet is experiencing distress after exercise in hot weather or being confined in a very warm environment such as a car, immediately remove your pet from the hot surroundings to a cool, shaded area. Bring down your pet’s temperature with cool water and place a fan on her, then bring her to your veterinarian. Do not use ice water, as this can cause the superficial vessels in your pet’s body to constrict, thereby retaining heat and delaying cooling.

Allergic Reaction

It is not uncommon for a dog to experience an allergic reaction after, for example, having been stung by a bee or bitten by a spider. When this happens, you may observe your dog’s muzzle and face swelling up, or hives developing over her flanks. Benadryl can be very useful for these scenarios, but make sure to contact your veterinarian for dosages and guidance before administering medications to your pet.

Emergency First Aid: In Summary

  • Even before an emergency occurs, keep a list of facilities close to you that provide emergency services, along with directions.
  • If possible, it is also a good idea to set aside funds to be available should you ever be in this situation.
  • A first aid kit can also be invaluable (see our First Aid blog for recommendations)
  • Emergency first aid is important, but when an emergency occurs, the most important thing will be to transport your pet to an emergency facility as soon as possible. Despite how panicked you are, however, drive carefully– crashing your car will not help your pet receive care any sooner!

If you have any doubts as to what constitutes an emergency, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian or nearest emergency facility for guidance.  We will do everything we can to help you get the care your pet needs as quickly as possible.

Emergency First Aid: What to do before arriving at the hospital


It can be quite distressing to witness your pet experiencing an emergency. The most important thing you can do is to bring your dog or cat to your veterinarian as soon as possible to maximize the chance of recovery. In this article, we will discuss some actions that you can take for certain situations before you are able to transport your pet to the hospital.


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posted in:  FIrst Aid  |  Pet Emergencies  |  Pet Injury Treatment  |  Toxins

Preparing for the Worst: Putting Together an Effective First Aid Kit for Your Pet

first aid kit

A stomachache from a large box of Valentine’s Day dark chocolates. Bleeding bite wounds from a tussle with another dog over a rawhide. Swollen red eyes from an unfortunate skunk encounter. A swollen muzzle from a bee sting outside. Sometimes it may seem like your mischievous Labrador Retriever has a never-ending penchant for finding misfortune. Putting together a first aid kit ahead of time can help you prepare for these emergencies and aid in your pet’s recovery from his misadventures. You can buy a premade kit from various retailers, or you can assemble one yourself with the following items:

Medical records and phone numbers: Many emergencies will require the attention of a professional, so make sure you always keep your veterinarian’s number and address handy. Additionally, many emergencies seem to take place at night or on the weekends when your veterinarian’s office is closed, so be sure to familiarize yourself with your local emergency hospital’s phone number and address. Keep a copy of your pet’s rabies certificate and pertinent medical records, especially if her medical history is complex and she is on multiple medications. It is also useful to keep a pet poison control number on hand in case of toxicities. Two such services are the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435), and the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661). Both have fees associated with consultations, but are invaluable in their offerings of vast databases of toxins and knowledgeable experts.

Bandaging materials: A romp through the woods can quickly result in a bleeding paw. Bandaging materials such as self-adherent material (“Vetwrap”), nonstick sterile pads, adhesive tape, and cast padding can help keep a wound clean until you reach your veterinarian’s office.

Towels/ Blankets: These are useful to include in your first aid kit for a variety of reasons. They may be used to apply pressure on wounds, used as a sling to support your pet if he is having trouble walking, or used as a stretcher to move a non-ambulatory patient.

Medications: 3% hydrogen peroxide is always useful to keep on hand in case your pet ingests a toxin or foreign material and you need to induce vomiting. Always consult a veterinarian before making your pet vomit. Some things are harmful if vomited up, and too much hydrogen peroxide can cause serious esophageal and stomach injury.

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is another medication that can be very useful. It can be used in case of allergic reactions. Always make sure you obtain the correct dose from your veterinarian before administering. If your pet has a history of life-threatening allergic reactions, you may wish to have an EpiPen on hand.

Karo syrup is a high-sugar product that is valuable for pets experiencing life-threatening drops in blood sugar (hypoglycemia). It is especially important to have available if your pet has a condition in which low blood sugar may be a problem (such as diabetes).

Oral syringe or turkey baster: Useful for administering oral medications and flushing wounds.

Thermometer: Used to check rectal temperature (lubricated with petroleum jelly). Normal is generally between 100- 102.5 F.

Muzzle or cloth strips to act as a muzzle: These are useful for very painful, panicked dogs (such as those that have been struck by a vehicle) that you may need to handle for transportation for treatment.

Kwikstop or corn starch: for nail bleeds.

Dish detergent: to clean off chemicals from the coat and skin.

E-collar: to prevent pets from licking wounds or pawing at injured eyes.

Gauze squares, cotton balls

Leash/ cat carrier

Latex gloves

Blunt-tipped scissors

Saline for flushing wounds, ophthalmic solution for flushing eyes

Needlenose pliers or hemostats

Tweezers or other apparatus to remove ticks

Antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes

Veterinary first aid book

There are several items you should not include in your pet’s first aid kit. Refrain from administering any over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. Dogs, and especially cats, are very sensitive to the harmful side effects of these medications, and in addition, they may interfere with pain medications your veterinarian wishes to prescribe. Use of these drugs can cause ulceration or even perforation of the gastrointestinal tract, and liver or kidney failure.

Remember, a good first aid kit is a very useful start to addressing your pet’s mishaps, but does not necessarily act as a substitute for professional care. Be sure to contact your veterinarian’s office in the event of an emergency so that the staff can advise you appropriately.

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