Pet emergency.

The best time to prepare a pet emergency preparedness plan is before you bring your furry companion home for the first time. The second-best time is now. So we’re glad you’re here! In this guide, you’ll learn what you need for a pet first aid kit. You’ll also learn the signs of some common pet emergencies. 

Keep in mind that all pet first aid measures should immediately be followed by a trip to the vet. Our team [link to Our Veterinarians page] at Animal Medical Hospital is here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We provide advanced ICU care and emergency surgery to help treat your pet’s life-threatening conditions

Pet First-Aid Kit Essentials

We recommend keeping one first-aid kit in your home and one in your car if your pet regularly rides along with you. Here’s what to put in your pet first aid kit:

  • The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center number: (888) 426-4435 (a fee may apply)
  • Our emergency number: (704) 334-4684 
  • Your pet’s medical records, including vaccine information and species breed, sex, weight, and age
  • Muzzle
  • Gauze
  • Elastic bands
  • Nonstick bandages
  • Adhesive veterinary tape for the bandages
  • Rectal thermometer for pets
  • Leash
  • Milk of magnesia—only use under direction from one of our veterinarians or an ASPCA Poison Control expert
  • Activated charcoal—only use under direction from one of our veterinarians or an ASPCA Poison Control expert
  • A pet stretcher or a blanket to use as a stretcher if needed

Once you’ve stocked your pet first aid kit, you’ll be prepared to help your dog or cat in the event of an emergency

Common Pet Emergencies 

Understanding what a pet emergency looks like is key to knowing when to start first aid. The list below isn’t exhaustive, though. Call our emergency number if you’re unsure whether your pet is in distress. 

Signs your pet needs first aid and emergency care include: 

  • Difficulty breathing or choking
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Signs of pain, including whining, howling, barking, or meowing
  • Inability to defecate or urinate
  • Eye injury, inflammation, or blindness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Bloated or swollen abdomen
  • Vomiting several times in one day or for multiple days in a row
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Open wounds, broken bones, and other severe injuries

As soon as you recognize that your pet is in crisis your goal is to stabilize your pet so you can transport them to your emergency veterinary hospital. 

Basic Pet First Aid

Four of the most serious situations that require first aid are choking, seizures, fractures, and bleeding. Let’s take a look at the first aid you can provide your pet in these four scenarios. 


Carefully check inside your pet’s mouth for a foreign object and remove it if you can. Do not push the object further back into your pet’s throat. If your pet is too frantic to let you look inside their mouth or the object is something you can’t remove, drive your pet to our emergency room immediately. 


Clear the area around your pet. Do not restrain your cat or dog. Call our emergency number and keep your pet warm once the seizure ends. 


Place a muzzle over your pet’s mouth. Dogs can get agitated and bite out of fear when they are in pain. Secure your pet in your emergency stretcher or blanket, keeping them as still and flat as you can. Drive your injured furry friend to our emergency room. 


Put a muzzle on your pet. Apply pressure to the wound using gauze from your pet first aid kit. Once the blood starts to clot, place a bandage around the wound and secure it with adhesive tape before driving your dog or cat to our emergency center. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, use an elastic band to form a tourniquet and drive your pet to see us immediately. 

Pet Emergency Preparedness

We hope you’ll never need to provide your pet with first aid, but it’s far better to be over prepared than unprepared. Our expert veterinarians are here 24 days, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to provide immediate emergency care whenever you need it. Reach out to our team to learn more about recognizing pet emergencies.