Pets play with exuberance and enthusiasm without much thought about what could happen. Their carefree energy means that accidents and injuries are common occurrences for pets. To help you cope when pet emergencies happen, our Boulder and Westminster vets share the basics of first aid for dogs and cats.

First Aid for For Cats & Dogs

It doesn't matter whether your pet is a tiny kitten or full grown Great Dane, pet accidents and injuries can strike at any time. That's why it's so important to know how to handle a health emergency so that you can stabilize them to get them to a vet.

First aid for pets is very similar to first aid for people. We suggest using the “Dr ABCs” to help you work through your pet's medical emergency:

  • Danger – keep yourself and others around you safe.
  • Response – check if your pet responds to their name or touch.
  • Airway – is their airway clear?
  • Breathing – are they breathing?
  • Circulation – do they have a pulse or heartbeat?
  • Send – someone to ask for help!

CPR for Pets

Every pet parent's primary concern is checking that their pet is breathing. Fatalities and brain damage can occur quickly if your pet suddenly stops breathing for any reason. CPR for pets is much like CPR for people. Here are the basic steps:

  • Check if they are breathing and try to find a heartbeat.
  • If they are not breathing check the air passage is unobstructed.
  • If there is no heartbeat begin chest compression at around 100 to 120 compression per minute.
  • Do 30 compression and give rescue breaths.
  • Close the pet's mouth and breath through their nose.
  • Check every 2 minutes for a heartbeat/independent breathing.
  • Get your pet to the vet, and keep up CPR on route to the vet or until your pet is breathing on its own.
  • If your pet starts breathing on their own you should still take them to the vet.

First aid kit for pets

It's a good idea to prepare a pet first aid kit long before a pet emergency strikes, that way you have everything you need when your pet suddenly requires care. Your pet first aid kit should include:

  • Bandages
  • Blunt-ended scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Wound dressing
  • Self-adhesive tape
  • Vinyl gloves
  • Foil blanket
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • A blanket to use as a stretcher or to immobilize them.


Memorize the “Dr ABCs” so that you know what to do in any emergency. CPR for dogs and cats is very similar to the human version but you will need to breathe through their nose. Common sense and best judgment are the name of the game when a pet emergency strikes. When in doubt, call your emergency vet clinic.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your pet is experiencing a veterinary emergency in the Boulder or Northside areas contact our Boulder and Westminster vets right away for urgent care. Our experienced team is here to help your pet when they need us most.