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the Dog Blog

Pet First Aid Tips & Kits

Image of pet first aid tips by American Red Cross

As dog parents, we know that our furry friends are part of the family. Emergency situations affect both two and four-legged family members and it's important to learn how to respond when the unexpected occurs. 

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Know the name and telephone number of 1-2 Emergency Veterinarians in your area. Keep their numbers handy at home and enter the numbers into your cell phone. If you won’t remember their names, put them under Dog Emergency Dr. so they are easy to find.
  • Take a class and be more prepared. The American Red Cross offers an online first aid and emergency preparedness class. To discover more about this class, pet parents can visit www.redcross.org and follow the “Register Now” link. You can also call the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and choosing option 3 from the selection to talk with the American Red Cross Health and Safety Services Training Support Center.
  • Put together a Pet First Aid Kit in case the unthinkable happens. Being prepared is half the battle! Here is a list from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
  • First aid is not a substitute for veterinary care. Have your dog checked by a veterinarian immediately after administering first aid to be sure they are stable and all issues have been addressed.

What can you learn at a Red Cross First Aid Class? Beth Kilchenman, Executive Director for the Medina County Red Cross in Medina, Ohio, explains, “The Red Cross Pet First Aid class provides participants with a strong foundation in the basic tools, techniques and practices for keeping your dog safe and healthy, as well as procedures to follow in emergency situations. Pet First Aid includes hands-on training and features step-by-step instructions for a wide variety of pet health-related topics, including:

  • Learn how to check your pet's vital signs, how to conduct preventative care for your pets, and how to recognize and provide first aid for the most severe emergencies your pet may experience.
  • Red Cross digital certification provided upon completion - access anytime, anywhere!
  • Desktop and tablet compatibility providing flexibility to access how, when and where you want to take the course. Also you can download their mobile app. 
  • Log-in anytime to review course material.
  • Content developed by the American Red Cross team of scientific and medical experts.

Your dog is a member of your family. Now is a great time to take the steps you can proactively, in case your dog needs you in an emergency. Being prepared will help your dog live a long and healthy life!


We all know dog lovers are a very special breed.

In honor of Pet First Aid Awareness Month, we spoke with Cyndi Loe, a Pet First Aid instructor for the Red Cross about what you can do to be prepared and help keep your dog safe. Always remember, first aid is not a substitute for veterinary care. If your dog is hurt, be sure to have them checked by a veterinarian to confirm they are stable and all issues have been addressed fully.

  1. One of the first things to understand is what is normal for your pet. Once you know that, you know what is NOT normal. For instance, did you know that a dog’s normal temperature typically ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees F, not 97 to 99 degrees F like humans, according to WebMD?
  2. The number of breaths per minute of a dog varies on size, but typically ranges between 3-10 breaths per minute in a normal canine. Anything higher, and your dog could be overheated.
  3. Once you understand your own dog's normal breathing pattern, you can better understand when she may be experiencing heat exhaustion. To decrease severe panting, bring her inside, cool her down by placing her paws in cool water, by pouring cold water directly on her or by saturating a towel with ice cold water and blanketing her in the towel.
  4. A must have in your on-hand emergency bag: Benadryl. An appropriate dose of Benadryl, based on weight, can help to help decrease swelling due to an allergic reaction, help to monitor breathing and more. Reducing the swelling can often help your dog become comfortable, quickly. 
  5. To address a bleeding paw on your own from home, simply apply pressure to the pad, and then wrap the paw in a plastic bag while you follow-up with your vet. The bag will keep the cut clean and help avoid infection.
  6. It’s of paramount importance to keep a Pet First Aid Kit in your home -- and another in your car for weekend excursions. The first aid kit should include 38 items! 
  7. Stay calm. In case of an emergency, you’ll forget more when you’re over excited, and what you don’t remember could hurt your best friend even more.
  8. Call ahead. If you need to transport your pet, it’s best to call your vet before you leave for his office. This helps to prepare the Veterinarian’s staff for any atypical emergencies.
  9. Stay informed! Take a class to make sure you’re really in the know. Go to RedCross.org for more information about taking a Pet First Aid Class. It’s a great way to learn about basic first aid skills in case of an emergency with your dog.
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