April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month: Learn More with These Helpful Tips

April 2019

Did you know that April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month? Established by the American Red Cross to bring life-saving tips to pet owners and animal service providers like pet sitters, dog walkers, and groomers, Pet First Aid Awareness Month is something we promote here at CVCA to help our clients handle medical issues at home and while traveling.

While it is always a good idea to consult your primary care veterinarian when you have a medical issue with your pet, emergencies can occur at any time, and sometimes happen when your vet’s office is closed. Arming yourself with first aid tips can help you stay calm if your pet gets hurt or eats the wrong thing.  Here are a few things you can do right away to become pet first aid savvy:


Establish Your Pet Emergency Contacts

Always keep the phone numbers for your primary care veterinarian and your local emergency vet hospital in an easy-to-locate spot. Program these numbers in your cell phone contacts and be sure to give them to pet sitters or family members who care for your animals. It’s also a good idea to have the number for the ASPCA’s nationwide Animal Poison Control Center – (888) 426-4435 – on hand. Note, there is a fee to use this service.

When traveling with your pet, make sure you know where a local vet hospital is near you and carry a basic first aid kit. If your dog rides in the car, even on short errands around town, it’s a good idea to keep a kit in your glove-box or under a seat.

Create a Pet First Aid Kit

So, what should be in your pet first aid kit? While pre-packaged kits are available for purchase online or at your local pet store, it's often more cost effective to assemble your own kit.

According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association’s checklist, these are some of the supplies you should stock in both your pets’ home and travel kits. As a tip, remember to refresh kits from time to time!

For Cuts, Scrapes and Bleeding:

  • Gauze
  • Non-stick bandages, towels, or strips of clean cloth – it is important to remember never to use self-stick bandages like Band-Aids®, as they can become painfully tangled in fur.
  • Adhesive tape
  • Hydrogen peroxide 3%

Cleanup Supplies:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Roll of paper towels


  • Extra doses of regular daily medications your pet requires for good health (e.g., thyroid meds, heart drugs, etc.)
  • Milk of magnesia and/or activated charcoal to absorb poisonous substances – it is important never to induce vomiting or treat an animal for poisoning without first calling your veterinarian or the poison control hotline.

Helpful tools:

  • Digital thermometer
  • Eye dropper or syringe
  • Muzzle
  • Collar & leash
  • Cat carrier/travel kennel
  • Large blanket (can be used as a stretcher)

Learn the ABCs of Pet CPR

All cat and dog owners should consider learning pet CPR via the American Red Cross Cat & Dog First Aid Online Training Course. Breathing and cardiac emergencies can happen at any time, especially in senior pets or those with known conditions, and this short course will show you how to respond in these situations.

Among other useful information, you will learn more about the ABCs (acronym for Airway, Breathing, and Circulation) of pet CPR as well as how to correctly administer chest compressions, give breath to the animal, and perform the Heimlich maneuver, if necessary.

Disaster Preparedness Planning with Pets

Be proactive and plan ahead for natural disasters and other home emergency situations that may impact both human and animal family members—like fires and floods.

Remember to keep your pet’s medical records (especially proof of vaccinations) and ID in an easy-to-locate place so  you can grab it in a hurry. Note that micro-chipping dogs and cats (and keeping these records updated when you move or change phone numbers) is a great way to locate your pet if you are separated in a disaster.

CVCA is Dedicated to Providing and Promoting Optimal Care for Pets

Has your primary care veterinarian recommended cardiac care for your pet (potentially following a medical emergency)? CVCA Cardiac Care for Pets has 13 locations within the states of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Texas to help your beloved pet live a longer, healthier life. Get in contact with us now to schedule an appointment or simply learn more about our practice and team of board-certified cardiologists.


Back to Blog