Home First Aid Treatments
If your pet has a medical emergency, please see our Emergency Care page for more information.
This information is meant as a guide for an urgent or late-night situation. It is not meant to replace examinations, diagnoses, and/or treatments performed or dispensed by a veterinarian. These treatments are generally safe when administered as described, but may not be appropriate in every case. Use this information at your own discretion, and if you are uncertain, please contact a veterinarian before performing any treatment.
Remove food and water. Do not give anything by mouth for 4 hours, then offer small amounts of Pedialyte, Gatorade, or water. While withholding food, dogs under 10 pounds or 4 months of age can be given a teaspoon of honey, corn syrup, or maple syrup every 2 hours to help prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If your dog or cat is able to keep liquids down for 4-6 hours, slowly reintroduce food in small amounts. Bland foods such as plain white or brown rice, boiled chicken, and cottage cheese may be better to start with than your pet’s regular food. If vomiting does not improve after 24 hours, please contact your veterinarian.
Additionally, dogs can be given Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate (do not give either Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate to cats). Give 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds body weight or 1 tablespoon per 15 pounds body weight every 2 hours. If vomiting does not improve after 4 doses, please contact your veterinarian.
Dogs can be given Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate (do not give either Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate to cats). Give 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds body weight or 1 tablespoon per 15 pounds body weight every 2 hours. If diarrhea does not improve after 4 doses, please contact your veterinarian.
Dogs and cats can be given Dulcolax for constipation. Give 1 tablet by mouth every 8 hours, but no more than 4 doses. Additionally, Benefiber or plain canned pumpkin can be mixed with food. Give 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds body weight. If your pet is unable to have a bowel movement within 24 hours, please contact your veterinarian.
Dogs can be given aspirin as an emergency pain medication. Be sure to use buffered aspirin formulations as these are safer for a dog’s stomach. Give 1 regular strength tablet (325mg) per 60 pounds body weight every 12 hours. If giving baby aspirin (81mg), give 1 tablet per 15 pounds every 12 hours. If your dog needs more than 2 doses of aspirin, please contact your veterinarian. Do not give aspirin to your dog if it has a history of liver, kidney, or gastrointestinal disease or problems with clotting. Contact your veterinarian for recommendations. Aspirin can cause side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding. There are usually better veterinary medications for pain control than aspirin, so please contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to discuss these options.
Never give cats any over-the-counter pain medications. Never give dogs or cats acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Midol), or naproxen (Aleve, Midol).
Dogs can be given Robitussin DM for mild coughing. Give 1ml per 2 pounds body weight, 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds, or 1 tablespoon per 30 pounds every 4 hours, but not more than 3 doses. If coughing does not subside after 3 doses, please contact your veterinarian.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction in dogs and cats may include excessive itching, swollen face, puffy eyes, hives, or vomiting. Dogs and cats can be given Benadryl (diphenhydramine) for allergic reactions. Give 1mg per pound every 8-12 hours. If your dog or cat continues to swell up or begins to have difficulty breathing, please contact your veterinarian immediately. If the reaction occurred after a vaccination, please notify your veterinarian so that precautions can be taken with future vaccinations.
Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream to the affected area no more than once every 4 hours. Rub in well. If the rash lasts more than 24 hours, increases in size, or if there is broken skin or bleeding from excessive licking or scratching, please contact your veterinarian.
Red or Runny Eyes
Use normal saline ophthalmic solution (such as regular contact solution, not hydrogen peroxide) to flush the eyes. Apply 2-3 drops every 4 hours. If the eyes remain red for more than 24 hours, or if they become painful (squinting, sensitivity to light, etc), please contact your veterinarian.
Do not use any solution containing steroids (dexamethasone, hydrocortisone) unless directed by a veterinarian.
Apply direct pressure to wounds to stop any bleeding. Bandage lightly if possible. Triple antibiotic ointments, such as plain Neosporin, are safe for dogs and cats and can be applied to wounds. Most cuts and lacerations can be sutured satisfactorily up to 12 hours after the injury.
If bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes of applying constant pressure, take the animal immediately to a veterinarian. For deeper wounds or infected wounds, please contact your veterinarian.
In the case of a seizure, it is important to remain calm so as not to further stress your pet. Reduce the lighting and environmental noise, turn your pet on their side, and place them on something soft until the seizure stops (usually 1-3 minutes). Do not place your fingers in or near the animal’s mouth. They will not swallow their tongue, and you could accidentally be injured. Try to time the length of your pet’s seizure using a watch or clock with a second hand. Please contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. Consider keeping a journal of your pet’s seizure activity. If a seizure continues for more than 5 minutes, take the animal immediately to a veterinarian.
Ingestion of a Toxin or Non-food Item
ONLY INDUCE VOMITING AT THE DIRECTION OF A VETERINARIAN OR POISON CONTROL CENTER.
Certain substances or items can cause more damage if your pet is induced to vomit. Please contact your veterinarian or a poison control center immediately.