Pet First Aid: Burns, Bites & Cuts

Claire Dunling

Just as the kids will come home from the park or school after being in the wars, our pets will likely get into the odd scuffle. This is part and parcel of life. But do you know how to deal with a minor injury or a wound that needs veterinary attention? Our pets cannot tell us what hurts and where, cats are especially good at covering up pain, but knowing what to look out for means they can get the attention they need. Sooner rather than later. From burns and bites to eye and ear injuries – find out how you can administer pet first aid to minor injuries.

Bites and abscesses

A ruckus with a dog in the park or scrap with the local tomcat is a fairly common injury for both cats and dogs. While it is not out of the ordinary, a nasty bite or scratch can soon turn into something worse like an abscess. A cat’s bite can cause small but deep puncture wounds that leave bacteria under the skin and causes infection. Symptoms of abscesses include redness, lethargy, lack of appetite, foul odour, limping or swelling. As all bite wounds and abscesses differ in severity, it’s recommended you visit your vet for an examination. Also, if antibiotics are given within the first 24 hours, the infection is less likely to spread.


While it’s important to make sure your dog gets their daily exercise, be mindful of hot pavements and burnt paws during the summer months. Opting for morning and early evening walks will help and checking the pavement with your own hand. If it’s too hot for you, then it will be for them. Alternatively, you could go to a dog-friendly beach or a shallow and steady moving stream to cool down and get some exercise in.

If your pet has burnt their paws, it won’t be difficult to tell – their pads will be red, visibly sore and may have broken skin. Your pet will most likely limp and yelp if you try to touch the affected area. To safeguard their paws, try out a Pawz Rubber Boot or Hurtta Outdoors Outback Boots Granite.

Removal of large splinters or glass

There could be all manner of reasons why your pet has a splinter. Perhaps you’ve recently made some home renovations, or you’ve come across some thorns on your woodland walk. Or sadly some plonker has left a smashed bottle on the floor. Either way, you’re sure to find out if your pet has something stuck where it shouldn’t be, sooner rather than later.

If you notice them hobbling, licking and chewing at their paw, leg or side try to keep them calm and inspect the injury. You’ll need good lighting to see the extent of the issue and probably an extra pair of hands to keep your pet still. Never attempt to remove a large splinter of wood or glass from your pet’s wound. If the wound is bleeding profusely, stem the flow of blood and hold a bandage around the injury and seek urgent veterinary help.

With the adventurous and often curious nature of our pets, it’s to be expected that the odd medical mishap will occur. Either purchasing an already made pet first aid kit or building your own bag will be a lifesaver in those heart in mouth moments. Learning how to use all your new pet kit would help too, so consider booking a pet first aid course. While burns, cuts and grazes on pets cannot be helped, by preparing for the worst and hoping for the best you can handle a pet emergency more efficiently.

Burns, Cuts & Bruises on Cats & Dogs

The article is an opinion and should only be used as a guide. You should discuss any change to your pet’s care or lifestyle thoroughly with your vet before starting any program or treatment.

If in doubt contact your veterinary practice

And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!