Carolinas Animal Hospital

Wounds, Burns, & Other Traumas: Pet First Aid

Dog & Cat First Aid: Wounds, Burns, & Other Traumas

Among the most common of medical situations you may encounter with your dog or cat are wounds, burns, and other traumas. First aid for these is important and likely pretty familiar.

Before we get into specifics, be sure you have read our blog “Pet First Aid: What You Should Know”. Our recommendations for your pet’s first aid kid will come in very handy for wounds and burns. The section on Safe Handling is very important to read because as much as we all love our pets, we have to understand that when they are in pain and don’t understand what we are doing to them, we have to approach this in a different way than you would apply first aid to a person.


  1. Judging the situation and your pet’s behavior carefully, the first thing you may need to do is muzzle your pet, as mentioned in our earlier article.
  2. For mild wounds and abrasions, flush the wound with warm water or hydrogen peroxide.
  3. If there is external bleeding, press a sterile gauze pad from your First Aid Kit onto the wound and maintain steady pressure with your hand until the blood begins to clot and bleeding is stopped or at least greatly reduced. Give this at least a couple of minutes without lifting the gauze to check.
  4. For mild wounds and abrasions, apply an OTC antibiotic ointment and bandage with sterile dressings if possible.
  5. If there is severe bleeding from the legs, use a tourniquet, and get to your vet immediately! Do not leave the tourniquet tight on the leg for more than 10-15 minutes at a time without loosening it for 20-30 seconds to allow some circulation to the limb.

Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding in pets should be treated as an emergency. Take your dog or cat to your veterinarian immediately.

Symptoms of internal bleeding include bleeding from the nose, mouth, or rectum, pale gums, blood in urine, rapid pulse, and weakness.

dog first aid charlotte vetBurns

Burns are all very painful. We recommend muzzling your pet unless they are a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed. If you own a brachycephalic breed, ask your vet for their opinion about your specific pet should the need ever arise. Some short-nosed pets will be more prone to having trouble breathing while muzzled.

  1. For chemical burns, quickly flush the burn with large quantities of water.
  2. For heat burns, flush with cold water and/or apply an ice water compress.
  3. For both, see your vet immediately. Burns need to be seen by a doctor, treated, and your pet will likely also require pain medication.


If you suspect that your dog or cat has a fracture, you must get to your vet for evaluation and treatment as soon as possible. Fractures are very painful and sometimes need to be set or splinted to heal properly.

The important thing for you to do here is to handle and transport the pet carefully so that the fractured bone is not jostled. Use a stretcher or some flat surface to lay the animal on. If needed, you can wrap a blanket or towel around them to help restrain them from too much movement.

dog first aid cat first aid reference app by red crossDid You Know?

Did you know that the Red Cross has a mobile app that you can refer to for first aid information for dogs and cats? Check it out!


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