Lucerne Veterinary Hospital Blog

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.

Hit By Car

If your pet has been struck by a vehicle or has undergone some other significant trauma, it is best to bring him to your veterinarian right away. Even if there are no obvious external injuries, there may be serious and possibly fatal internal damage that may not manifest itself until later on. If your pet is unable to walk, you can use a sheet or a towel to transport him. Take care not to be bitten, as even the gentlest animals may react due to severe pain. Handle your pet as little as possible and minimize excessive movement to avoid exacerbating any injuries.


After your pet has sustained a cut or a wound, the first step is to stop excessive bleeding. You can use a feminine sanitary product or a clean cloth and apply direct pressure. Then, wrap the wound if possible to keep it clean and maintain pressure if bleeding continues when pressure is let up. Prevent your pet from licking at the bandage, and bring her to your veterinarian so that the wound can be decontaminated and repaired if necessary. Do not delay treatment, especially of bite wounds, as these can quickly become infected. Tourniquets should only be used as a last resort to stop life-threatening bleeding, as their use can lead to possibly needing to amputate the limb. Do not remove any impaling objects.


A seizure can be very alarming to watch when it occurs. If this happens, make sure to clear the area around your pet so he doesn’t hurt himself by hitting objects during the seizure.  Do not place your fingers inside your dog or cat’s mouth. Seizuring animals are not in danger of swallowing their tongues, and doing so will only cause you to be bitten. If your pet has a very long seizure or many seizures in a row, he may become overheated, and you should cool your pet with cool water or rubbing alcohol on the paws and belly and get him to your vet immediately. If you have a toy breed puppy or diabetic animal who has a seizure suddenly, apply some Karo syrup to the gums and then bring him to your veterinarian as soon as possible. These patients can develop seizures as a result of low blood sugar.

Ingestion of Toxic Substances

When your dog has ingested a possible poison or human drug, call your veterinarian or a poison control line, such as the ASPCA at (888) 426-4435. There is usually a fee for this service, but it is well worth it, as Poison Control is staffed by veterinary toxicologists and equipped with a vast database of many different chemicals and medications. Poison control can direct you in treatment procedures and let you know if an emergency visit is needed. Do not induce vomiting without first speaking to the poison control service or your veterinarian, as some products may be harmful if vomited. Make sure to keep the poison’s packaging available for reference.

Stay tuned for next week, when we conclude our emergency first aid series with a discussion of allergic reactions, heat stroke, and more.


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