First Aid for Pets

First aid is a subject that everyone will be familiar with. We all deal with it every day, whether it is as simple as applying a plaster or as life-saving as bringing an asthmatic their inhaler.  However, first aid for pets is a subject that is less familiar for some!  There are many similarities that cross species, including humans, but some big differences.  Did you know that TCP will strip the skin of many mammals?  Or that some antiseptic creams contain too high a concentration of minerals and actually poison some birds and reptiles?  These are the fairly minor parts of first aid and most of us will attempt something with relative confidence with minor injuries.  Are you prepared for the bigger problems?

We are here to help!

We have tried to put together some information on the pages included here to guide you through some of the more dramatic presentations, and how to deal with them. These pages will be up-dated and others will be added over time. If there is anything you really want to know about, why not contact us so we can put something together for you?

Some safe first aid items for use

Micropore tape:

This is safe in most species and will come off easily when soaked

Melonin dressings:

These are non-adhesive and should not stick to fragile tissues

Vaseline or petroleum jelly:

This makes an excellent barrier but should only be applied to clean tissues

Bandaging materials:

These should have a layer between any wound and the bandage to prevent the bandage sticking. Bandages should be loose enough to get two fingers underneath in most cases. If a bandage is used to stop bleeding, it should be applied tightly but veterinary assistance should be sought immediately. Leaving a bandage in place that is too tight can result in the death of tissues around it, and even in the loss of a limb!

Salt water:

1 teaspoon of salt in a pint of water is plenty

Manuka honey:

This is an excellent anti-bacterial dressing but should only ever be applied to a clean surface. It is very sticky and will bind any dirt in place!

Items to use with care

Many of the below items can be used on some species and not others. They should only be used in small amounts. Please call us for advice if you are unsure.


This can be used in dogs and cats in small amounts. Sudocrem contains zinc-oxide which is highly toxic to birds. Zinc-oxide is also toxic to dogs and cats if ingested in large quantities, but applying a thin layer of sudocrem to sore or irritated skin is generally safe and can be beneficial.


This is generally safe, but only a thin layer should be used.


This should not be used on mammals or reptiles, but can be used on birds at a dilution of 1 part TCP to 5 parts water.

Items to avoid

Elastoplast or plasters:

These can strip the skin from many reptiles, birds and small mammals

Cotton wool on open wounds:

Cotton wool will stick to anything wet so will actually make wounds worse

Any medicated cream

Tea tree oil, cream or washes:

This is far too strong for the skin of our pets and can cause serious damage

Your own medications:

Many of these do not work the same way in pets as they do in us and can cause serious harm or loss of life

Any house cleaning fluids or disinfectants, any washing powders:

These can cause severe burns both internally (if licked) and externally

Non-prescription medications
NEVER give ibuprofen to an animal! It can cause massive bleeding in the intestinal tract, kidney failure, large ulcers to develop in the stomach and it can (and does) kill.
NEVER give paracetamol without getting advice from a veterinary surgeon first. Paracetamol is safe for some species but deadly in others, and the dose is very tightly regulated.
NEVER give your pet aspirin (unless it is being used as part of a treatment regime formulated by your veterinarian). It can cause severe bleeding.

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