Read on to help keep your furry friends safe!

If your pet slipped and fell down a flight of stairs or had a seizure, would you know what to do? If you answered no, online training courses offered by the American Red Cross might be time well spent.

April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month – a month dedicated to teaching “pet parents” about providing emergency care to their animals. Taking the time to learn Pet First Aid could save your furry friend’s life. Additionally, it can make you feel more secure as a pet owner; just as learning CPR/AED skills gives people confidence in responding to emergencies involving their fellow humans!

Most pet owners are responsible about keeping their dog or cat’s regular routine health maintenance visits with the veterinarian and will seek immediate care if their pet gets hurt or sick. But would you know how to give your pet First Aid if veterinary care were not immediately available?

The way you react within the first few moments following an accident or sudden illness may be critical to the future health of your pet. In many instances, waiting until a veterinarian has arrived, or until one can be driven to, may take too much time.This situation could present itself if you and your pet are out camping or boating, you’re hiking in a remote area, or you happen to live in an area where the nearest animal hospital is many miles away.

Even if you spend most of your time at home and live near the vet, you should still be prepared for emergencies. You’ll breathe a bit easier knowing you can give your pet First Aid when it counts.

Get trained!

In honor of Pet First Aid Awareness Month, we’re encouraging every pet owner, pet-sitter and dog walker around to take the American Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid online training course and download the free Pet First Aid App.

“People will learn to recognize when their pet is experiencing a life-threatening emergency and what to do until veterinary help is available,” said Deborah C. Mandell, VMD, DACVECC, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, and professor at Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “They will also learn how to include their pet in their family’s emergency preparedness plans.”

You can access the course on your desktop or tablet at and go through the content at your own pace. It takes approximately 30 minutes to complete the interactive course, which includes:

  • How to determine a pet’s normal vital signs so that owners can notice if there are any irregularities;
  • Step-by-step instructions and visual aids for what to do if a pet is bleeding, having a seizure or suffering from heatstroke; and
  • Information on preventative care, health and tips for a pet’s well-being.

What should pet owners know about emergencies?

Just like caring for our human loved ones, the best medicine to prevent illnesses, accidents, and injuries is prevention. While it’s impossible for you to stop all accidents from happening, you can take steps to reduce the dangers and risks your pet faces every day.

All pet owners should be familiar with household items that could cause choking, injuries, or accidental poisonings in their animals. These are some of the most common causes of emergency vet visits every year.

According to the ASPCA, pets may need emergency care because of severe trauma—caused by an accident or fall—choking, heatstroke, an insect sting, household poisoning or other life-threatening situation. The American Veterinary Medical Association outlines 13 animal emergencies that require immediate veterinary care. Read more about key warning signs and next steps here.

The essential thing to remember is that ANY concern about your pet’s health warrants, at minimum, a call to your veterinarian. At your dog or cat’s next routine health maintenance visit, ask your veterinarian about their emergency protocol, write the instructions and telephone numbers down, and tack them to your refrigerator and store them in your cell phone.

DOWNLOAD THE APP: The free Red Cross Pet First Aid App provides instant access to expert guidance on how to maintain your pet’s health, what to do in emergencies, and how to include pets in your emergency preparedness plans. The app helps owners learn what emergency supplies to have, when they should contact their veterinarian, and where to find a pet care facility or pet-friendly hotel. Users learn how to assemble a pet first aid kit and an emergency kit. Step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations including how to treat wounds, control bleeding, and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies are included.

The Pet First Aid App can be downloaded by texting ‘GETPET’ to 90999, by going to, or by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in app stores.