Pet First Aid

Posted by Pia

For the next few Thursdays we have the privilege of receiving expert life-saving advice from pet first aid and CPR instructor Denise Fleck. I met Denise and her beloved dog Sunny many years ago when she volunteered to help with an adoption promoting video. Years later I took her pet first aid and CPR class with a group of fellow animal lovers. I'd encourage everyone to take such a class!

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Denise Fleck is an instructor specializing in pet first aid and CPR. She is a recent recipient of the Dog Writer's of America's Maxwell Medallion Award.

1 Denise Fleck is an instructor specializing in pet first aid and CPR. She is a recent recipient of the Dog Writer's of America's Maxwell Medallion Award.

She is also a member of the Southern California Animal Response Team.

2 She is also a member of the Southern California Animal Response Team.

Statistics show that preventable accidents are the leading cause of death among our pets.

3 Statistics show that preventable accidents are the leading cause of death among our pets.

It is estimated that 92% of dogs and cats will experience an emergency during their lifetime.

4 It is estimated that 92% of dogs and cats will experience an emergency during their lifetime.

According to The American Animal Hospital Association, 
25% more of them could be saved if just one pet first-aid technique were applied 
prior to them getting professional veterinary care.

5 According to The American Animal Hospital Association, 25% more of them could be saved if just one pet first-aid technique were applied prior to them getting professional veterinary care.

According to Denise, bandaging, removing parasites and treating heat stroke and stings are basic pet first-aid skills every pet parent should possess.

6 According to Denise, bandaging, removing parasites and treating heat stroke and stings are basic pet first-aid skills every pet parent should possess.

It only takes a short period of time for an animal left in a car to get into a deadly situation! An animal can succumb to heatstroke, which can cause brain damage, kidney failure, cardiac arrest, and death.

7 It only takes a short period of time for an animal left in a car to get into a deadly situation! An animal can succumb to heatstroke, which can cause brain damage, kidney failure, cardiac arrest, and death.

Beware of clues: Dogs pant to exchange cooler outside air with the warm humid air in their lungs, while cats don’t usually pant until they are overwhelmed by the heat.

8 Beware of clues: Dogs pant to exchange cooler outside air with the warm humid air in their lungs, while cats don’t usually pant until they are overwhelmed by the heat.

9 "Do your research now and gather your tools, so that if an emergency occurs, you can turn tragedy into a success story for your furry family members," Denise advises.

I keep Denise's laminated CPR poster on my wall. I have given this and the rescue kit as gifts to fellow advocates.

10 I keep Denise's laminated CPR poster on my wall. I have given this and the rescue kit as gifts to fellow advocates.

According one of Denise's students, the biggest benefit of taking a pet CPR class was that it gave her

11 According one of Denise's students, the biggest benefit of taking a pet CPR class was that it gave her "confidence to deal with any situation." Knowing what to do is of no use if you don't have the confidence to react.

Denise is an advocate of adopting senior pets, and she teaches workshops on how to make their later years more golden.

12 Denise is an advocate of adopting senior pets, and she teaches workshops on how to make their later years more golden.

Denise resides near Los Angeles with her husband, Paul, and their canine family: a Black Lab, Mr. Rico, and two Japanese Akitas, Haiku & Bonsai -- all rescues!

13 Denise resides near Los Angeles with her husband, Paul, and their canine family: a Black Lab, Mr. Rico, and two Japanese Akitas, Haiku & Bonsai -- all rescues!

Bone Up on Pet First Aid, by Denise Fleck

Pet first aid is the immediate care given to an animal that is ill or injured and generally requires follow-up veterinary care. Veterinarians are the experts, but they are rarely on the scene when something happens to your dog, so by reacting quickly, effectively and confidently before professional medical care is available, you may save your best friend’s life!

Here are a few basic tips:

  • To stop bleeding, apply direct pressure with clean gauze before bandaging.
  • Gently flush burns with cool water. If blisters or charring are present, cover with a non-stick bandage to prevent infection and quickly get to your veterinarian.
  • For heat stroke (body temperature 104°F or higher), cool skin (paws, belly, pits and groin) with lukewarm to cool water and get prompt medical attention. Always provide shade and fresh water and NEVER leave your pet in a parked car!
  • If the urge to snap at a bee is uncontrollable for your pooch, administer 1mg of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) per pound of your pet’s body weight to alleviate the symptoms of insect stings. Apply a cold compress to any swelling, but if severe or if your dog develops any breathing difficulties, GET HIM TO THE VET!
  • Examine your house from your pet’s perspective getting down on all fours. Remember, anything on the floor can end up in his mouth! If you suspect poisoning, call your veterinarian or  the ASPCA's poison control hotline (888-426-4435). You will be advised to dilute the poison (caustic substances) or induce vomiting by administering one tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 15 lbs. of the animal’s weight and then get quickly to your veterinarian or emergency animal hospital.

Having the right tool for the job can help alleviate pain and further injury to your four-legged best friend. So that you are prepared to bandage a wound, pull a tick, or soothe an upset canine tummy, make sure you have the most basic items:

  • 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting
  • Eye wash
  • 4" x 4" gauze squares and gauze roll
  • Adhesive tape of self-adhering bandage
  • Cold packs
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • A needle-less syringe or eyedropper
  • A digital thermometer (dogs and cats normally run 100.4°-102.5° F)
  • Styptic powder to stop bleeding toenails
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Antihistamine and antacid tablets
  • A portable water bowl, bottled water and electrolyte replenisher
  • A leash to wrangle or muzzle a pet
  • A towel or blanket to wrap an unruly puppy or to use as a stretcher
  • Phone numbers and addresses of your veterinarian and animal ER
  • Pet first aid handbook


Thanks Denise! Be sure to check out the many great tips, videos and resources on The Sunny Dog website.
I'll have more great safety information next Thursday.
So sit, stay and be safe!
In kinship,
Dr. Pia Salk

Learn more about pet first aid from Marc Morrone

Comments (8)

  • Hello Ms. Pia,
    Thank you for putting all this information on the blog on how to take care of us if something happens. I am going to show this to my mom. After all, we are important members of our family. I do have one thing that you could eliminate from that list though, a thermometer. YUK......

  • Hello Dr. Pia,
    I am with Maddox, no thermometers..but I know they help. This First Aid stuff is a great idea. Mom and Dad got a pamplet the other night at the emergency vet's all about CPR and mounth to mouth for pets. They are studying up already and your first aid kit is something I will recommend. Thanks Ms. Fleck.
    Love & licks,
    Basil

  • This is great information, I live in an area with abundant venomous snakes, but if one of my dogs gets bitten do I apply a pressure bandage? our land is always kept clean and mown and I never leave dog drinking containers outside at night, as I have been told if the snakes know they will come to it. Yes copper heads and browns and I think 20-30 minutes to get to a vet, very dangerous.

    Many thanks,

  • Great information and article! Thank You Denise Fleck and God Bless you for your work...congratulations on your "Dog Writer's of America's Maxwell Medallion Award"

    I have my horses first aid kits and see there is a lot in there that I can use for my Kitty. Dealing with horses and emergencies has taught me to be calm and think things out...but then I am a sensitive person and have to remind myself that excitement does not help in resolving a bad situation.

    And again thanks Dr. Pia for your kinship and information shared here.
    <3 delia and Kitty

  • Hi Dr. Pia & Denise Fleck, Thank you so much for this post and more to follow about Pet First Aid that is extremely important for all of us animal lovers!! My sweet little Dudley Do right has tracheal collapses occasionally and no one has ever been able to tell me if it can be prevented or what to do to when it occurs. Have a great day! Jan

  • Thank you, Denise & Pia, for bringing awareness to being prepared for our loved ones! Great tips that are very much appreciated.

  • Pia,

    I am posting here because I do not know how else to pass this information along.
    I own a French Bulldog that I believe are form the same parents as Martha's. She has seizures that are under control. Her littermate, however had a seizure recently and ended up with aspitration pneumonia and unfortunately died yesterday at a specialty practice here in Atlanta. I wanted just to pass this along incase anyone had questions about Martha's dogs that I could shed light on.

    M. Lance Hirsh, DVM
    Veterinary Center of Buckhead
    Atlanta, GA

  • thank you for the informations which is helpful.but i have a problem with my 10 years old molly .its a mixed greatdane/labrador.she started to leake her own tail one year ago i tried everything possibl to prevent her but i failed now there is a wound like an ulcer at the site where she leaks.i tried bandage many many times with elezabeth collar but of no use.if any one can helpe me

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