By Jodi Hartley

April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month, and it is a great time to assess your knowledge and preparation for a pet emergency.

Some of the most common pet emergencies are poisoning, animal bites, seizures, choking, heatstroke and muscle/ligament injuries. Think through these emergencies. Would you know how to recognize the signs of poisoning? Should you induce vomiting, let it pass or head straight to the emergency vet if you do suspect poisoning? What, if anything, could you do until you get to the emergency vet to help your dog survive?

There are a number of things you can do as a dog owner to be prepared to help your dog or another dog in the case of an emergency:

1. Become certified in Pet First Aid and CPR. The American Red Cross offers courses in Pet First Aid and CPR. This is a great way to learn and practice how to handle pet emergencies.

2. Buy (and read) a book about Pet First Aid and CPR. They are available at most major online booksellers and through the American Red Cross.

3. Create a Pet First Aid kit. You can buy a premade one from the American Red Cross or put together your own with help from this list ( by The Humane Society of the United States. Make sure to keep your kit supplies up to date and out of reach of pets and children.

4. Download an App. The American Red Cross created a Pet First Aid App ( for your smartphone. It is available at the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store for Android.

5. Remember that pet emergencies can happen anywhere – not just at home. When preparing for an emergency keep in mind additional places you may go with your dog.

6. Be prepared for disasters or other emergencies that may happen in unusual circumstances. See our previous article ( about disaster preparedness.

Article References:

AMVA: First Aid Tips for Pet Owners.

American Red Cross: April: Pet First Aid Awareness Month.

The Humane Society of the United States: What You Should Have in Your Pet’s First-Aid Kit.

Tomlinson’s: 5 Common Pet Emergencies – Pet First Aid Awareness, Part 1.