First Aid for Burns in Pets

Burns in pets is more common than we think. When we say “Burn,” we think of fire, but that’s not all. Burns in pets can occur by many other agents than simply fire.

[caption id="attachment_8330" align="alignright" width="300"]Paw burns in dogs Paw burn-in a dog due to walking in the hot pavement.[/caption]

You may not be aware that walking your dog on hot streets in summer months can burn your dog’s paws. This is a very common condition in a hot tropical country like India.

Another more common cause of burns in pets is hot water. Suppose you have kept a bucketful of hot water for bath and your pet laid his hands on it! This causes immediate blisters in your pet’s body.

Caustic chemicals, grease are other causes of burn.

How to know your pet is burned.

Except in severe cases you have to know by symptoms to tell that your dog is burned. Your dog or cat may be limping, constantly licking the area. Watch out for blister, redness, and swelling.

First Aid for Burns in Pets

There is a step by step procedure of first aid for burns in pets to contain the infection and thereby prevent death.

In case of a recent fire, even though you may notice that there is no fire in pet’s body but the area beneath the skin continues to burn or scald for hours. Therefore, it is necessary to cool down the affected body area.


  • If your pet is outside taking him inside to a cooler, cleaner place. In case of fire, there might be harmful smoke; take your pet away from the site of smoke.

  • Muzzle the animal, remove collar or harness as it becomes tighter in case of burns due to fire, try to keep the animal calm.

  • Skin is slowest to cool. Therefore, Cool the area with running water for 10 minutes or immerse in water (Except in burns caused by caustic chemicals).

  • Apply a moist towel or bandage to the affected area.

  • Don’t pour cold water or ice pack as it cools the affected area too quickly causing vasoconstriction and thereby making the wounds deeper. Sometimes applying ice pack brings the body temperature below normal, this can be fatal.

  • Don’t apply ointment at this stage, as it may hinder the assessment process by the vet.

  • Transport the pet to the vet. If the place is too far away, make sure to cover your pet’s body with several blankets, this will prevent hypothermia and also prevent secondary infection and sepsis.

  • If veterinary help is far or not available, clip and wash the area, apply silver sulphadiazine ointment (commonly known in India as Burnol ointment).

  • Some pets might experience bronchospasm due to smoke as I have seen such cases in my clinic. Therefore, oxygen therapy becomes inevitable to save a life.

  • In the case of burns caused by caustic chemicals, it is necessary to remove the source first. Don’t apply water as the chemical may spread to other areas. Prevent the pet from licking the area, as the caustic chemical if ingested, may cause damage to internal organs.

  • Never delay the treatment. If you notice seizure or some kind of neurological deficit contact a pet ambulance ASAP.

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