First Aid

Life-threatening emergencies need speedy action. Don't let 'heroism' interfere with common sense.

First Aid for pets

Don’t panic

If your pet is injured, you will be more help to them if you stay calm.

Call your vet practice immediately

Explain what’s happened and say when you will arrive. If it is outside normal working hours, you may get a message with details of your local out-of-hours veterinary service

Don’t try to deal with serious injuries yourself

This could put you or your pet in danger: an animal may bite or lash out when in pain, causing further complications.

Don't give your pet patient anything to eat or drink unless the vet tells you to do so.

Be prepared for emergencies - it can often save a life

  1. Keep your vet’s name, address and telephone number stored in your mobile, stored in your landline or next to the phone. Do not use the emergency phone number you’ve called in the past, as the practice may use a locum service, or be part of an emergency cover group.
  2. Keep a pen and paper handy to take down instructions if necessary.
  3. Call the vet first. Don't dash along to the practice without phoning first. Emergencies may be seen at a different site, or the vet may need to give you vital advice or get the operating theatre prepared.
  4. Keep a Pet First Aid kit at home and with you when you are travelling.

Pet First Aid Kit

A good Pet First Aid Kit will contain:

  • Bandages
  • Blunt-ended scissors
  • Wound wash
  • Cotton wool
  • Tweezers
  • Tick tweezers
  • Wound dressings
  • Self-adhesive tape
  • Dressings
  • Vinyl gloves
  • Foil blanket
  • Antiseptic wipes

For larger animals it is also useful to have:

  • Access to a rug or blanket that can be used as a stretcher

Resuscitation (ABC) for dogs

These suggestions are life saving measures whilst you wait for veterinary assistance.

We would advise owners to take veterinary advice, or attend a veterinary-led first aid course, to learn how to deliver CPR in the safest way.


  • Pull the tongue forward.
  • Check there is nothing in the throat.


  • Look and listen.
  • If the dog is not breathing, extend the dog's neck, close the mouth and blow down the dog's nose, using your hand as a 'funnel' so that you do not directly contact your dog's nose.


  • If you are sure there is no heartbeat, compress the chest twice per second vigorously enough to achieve obvious chest compression.
  • Check the heartbeat/pulse.

Traffic accidents involving dogs

Keep calm and don't panic

  • Get someone to phone the nearest vet.
  • Approach the dog from the front so the animal can see you.
  • Avoid any sudden movements.
  • Speak gently, using the dog's name if possible.

Assess the situation

  • What's the danger to you and others? DON'T BE A HERO!
  • Direct the traffic if you can.

Transport to the vet or move the dog away from the traffic

  • If the dog can walk, gently coax it into a car and help the dog get in.
  • If the dog needs to be moved out of the traffic and cannot walk:
  • Lift large dogs on a makeshift stretcher, using a blanket, coat, rug or firm board.
  • Lift small and medium dogs with hands underneath the hindquarters and the chest. Make sure the breathing isn't obstructed.
  • Don’t move the dog if the dog is very badly injured or you suspect spinal injuries – unless your vet advises you to do so.

Protect your pet with cover from the vet experts.

Our Pet Insurance is arranged in association with one of the UK's top insurers and offers:

  • 5 star pet cover* – selected by our vets
  • Cover for up to £8,000 a year** in vets' fees
  • Access a range of pet helplines

Get a PDSA Petsurance quote for peace of mind protection for your pet.

*Defaqto 5 Star rating applies to our Plus and Premier policies only. Defaqto’s Star Ratings provide an independent assessment of the quality of financial products.

**Veterinary fees cover up to £8,000 on Petsurance Premier products only. Your Pet’s treatment,  for both illnesses and injuries, will be covered up to a single policy limit, for each policy year, as long as your policy remains in force, your premiums paid up to date and the insurer invites renewal. There is no limit on how long you can claim for each illness or injury. Upon renewal, the policy limit is reset and available to claim again. Policy excesses will apply per condition, per year.

PDSA's 5 star Defaqto rating