Basic first aid advice for pets

In a pet health emergency, getting your pet to the vets quickly can be crucial. However, your pet may need more immediate help.

At Southill Vets, we believe it is important for pet owners to understand and be able to administer a basic level of Pet First Aid.

We have listed some emergencies below and shared advice on how to handle them in the first instance.

As with any pet health emergency, always call a Vet for advice.

Emergency contacts


For wounds that are actively bleeding, keep the animal as quiet as possible and apply pressure to the wound. This will help to stop the bleed. You can bandage the wound using a clean towel, piece of clothing, or bandage material. The bandage should be firm, but not too tight. 

DO NOT try to remove any object or foreign material visible in the wound. This may make the bleeding worse, so always leave it. 

Bite wounds are often very infected as the teeth harbour a huge number of bacteria. Often, we will need to prescribe antibiotics for these wounds. 

DO NOT feed your pet any food or water as they may need an anaesthetic to stitch up the wound. 

If your pet is experiencing breathing difficulties – ring the surgery immediately. 

If your pet seems to have an obstruction, open your pet’s airway carefully by pulling the tongue forward out of the mouth until it is flat – but be careful as your pet may bite in panic. 

Check the throat to see if there are any objects blocking their airway. 

Breathing problems can be caused by obstructions, chest issues, asthma (cats), and overheating. 

Move your pet immediately to a well-ventilated and shaded area. Slowly pour cool water over them – not ice cold. 

NEVER  leave your pet in a car on warm days. The temperature can rise very quickly and even on milder days, so be very careful. 


This can look like your pet is shaking continuously, twitching, and they can go rigid in the limbs. They can sometimes pass urine and faeces uncontrollably. 

Move any objects near your pet that may harm them. Turn off bright lights and keep noise to a minimum. 

NEVER touch their face/mouth as pets may bite without meaning to. 


See our emergency pet care information


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