4 min read

3 Pet First Aid Courses to Level Up Your Pet Care Biz



No one likes to think about a pet needing emergency care. But in the real world, pet accidents do occur, and it’s important for pet caregivers and pet parents to be prepared to address them. Events can happen suddenly, so knowing what to do immediately may save the life of your own or a client’s fur baby. 

Some situations where knowing first aid is critical can include sudden allergic reactions that lead to respiratory crisis and shock, a broken leg, choking, or bleeding. These are life-threatening conditions where time counts. Knowing how to apply a tourniquet to a pup’s leg, or where to put pressure to slow bleeding can make all the difference. A doggy Heimlich maneuver can clear food from an airway. Any severe injury can send a dog into shock – would you know what to do?

Fortunately, there are pet first aid courses where you can learn the fundamentals and more.

Pet First Aid Courses

While some pet first aid courses are live, others offer online education to make it easier to fit into busy schedules, or if there isn't a physical school in your area. The investment will be well worth it if a pet in your care needs help. Adding a pet first aid course to your credentials will set you apart from other caregivers and give pet owners peace of mind. Read on to find out where and how you can get trained in pet first aid.

Many courses provide education about what every owner or caregiver should have on hand to provide crucial first aid. There are certain equipment and supply essentials that should be in every pet first aid kit, such as tweezers, gloves, bandages and other medical supplies. In addition to medical items, you should also include copies of your pet’s medical records, including immunizations, medication list, list of chronic illnesses, and the pet’s tag number and microchip ID if applicable. 

How long does a dog first aid course take?

The time it takes to complete a first aid course will depend on the organization offering the education, what’s included such as Basic First Aid, CPR, or specialized treatments, and whether the course is live, virtual, or self-directed online.

Individual courses can take less than an hour, or be as long as six hours. Online courses can be as short or as long as necessary because they typically are available for access for a year or until they’re completed. This allows learners to manage their own time and take as long as they need. 

White and orange tiger-striped cat pawing first aid items

American Red Cross Cat and Dog First Aid Course

The American Red Cross offers an online course for pet first aid that can be taken at a learner’s own pace. The course covers the following:

  • Taking vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, temperature) and recognizing abnormal values
  • Cardiovascular emergencies (not including CPR)
  • Respiratory distress
  • Wounds/bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Allergic reactions
  • Preventive care

The online course is desktop and tablet compatible, and the Red Cross offers an app that can be used for reference on the go. It’s available at the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Cost: $25

Time to complete: 35 minutes

Certification: Available as a digital download

Pet Emergency Education Course

The Pet Emergency Education course is available in person, virtually with Zoom, and on demand online. The company also offers a course to brush up on skills to qualify for certification renewal. 

There are three types of Pet First Aid and CPR through Pet Emergency Education:

  • Canine and Feline CPR and First Aid
  • Canine and Feline CPR and First Aid for Grooming Professionals
  • Canine and Feline CPR and First Aid with Advanced Life Support for Veterinary Professionals

This course is structured to be part lecture and part hands-on, and it includes:

  • Safety techniques
  • Emergency triage
  • Restrain and transport skills
  • En route first aid
  • Vital signs
  • Putting together a first aid kit
  • Pet CPR

The focus of the Pet Education course is to keep the animal alive or to keep the condition from getting worse on the way to the veterinary clinic. 

Included upon course completion are a first aid reference e-book, a two-year subscription to the Pet Emergency Online Resource Center, and approval to use the PetCPR name and logo on marketing materials. CPR testing is conducted before the learner can receive CPR certification, and the course is eligible for three continuing education credit hours for professionals.

Class minimum is six learners, with a maximum of 25. Class “hosts” receive a complimentary registration. The company offers a price-match guarantee for equivalent training and certifying courses.

Cost: $74.95

Time to complete: 4-6 hours

Certification: Available for first aid and animal CPR

Golden retriever receiving first aid care outside - pet care business

Animal Career Training Pet First Aid and CPR Course

Animal Career Training offers a course taught by a licensed veterinary technician with decades of experience. It’s a self-paced online offering for dog walkers, pet sitters, kennel attendants, pet owners, and anyone involved in the care of cats and dogs. A printable skills checklist is available at the start of the course so the learner can keep track of their newly-learned skills and knowledge.

The course covers eight sections, and each section includes the lessons, demonstrations of techniques and quizzes. It’s recommended that the learner equip themselves with a stethoscope, thermometer, some rolled gauze, and a live pet to practice on.

The sections taught are:

  • Pet First Aid and CPR overview and checklist
  • Safety and restraint
  • Physical exam and vital signs
  • Common ailments
  • Environmental conditions – hypo- and hyperthermia, choking, poisons, foreign body ingestion, insect bites, etc.
  • Trauma and injury
  • Physiologic and breed-predisposed conditions
  • First aid and emergency response

For the practical portions of the course, the learner may send a video of them demonstrating a skill for feedback from the instructor.

Cost: $79.00

Time to complete: 6-8 hours

Certification: Available

What qualifications do you need to look after dogs?

Pet sitters and walkers don’t need credentials to offer their own services. Many times, college students try their hand at walking and sitting to make some extra cash for school. Online, on-demand dog walking and sitting platforms such as Wag! provide a level of credentialing because they carefully vet the caregivers who use their platform.  

On the other hand, professional pet caregivers will find more jobs if they’re credentialed by organizations that set guidelines and test applicants. These may include credentialing for pet sitters, groomers, boarding and sitting professionals, and trainers. Individual states may also have licensing regulations that apply to veterinary professionals. 

If you’ve ever been in a situation where your or your client's dog or cat is injured and you haven’t known what to do, a first aid course is a good idea. It’s important to remember that first aid should be seen as a temporary measure until you get to the vet clinic with your fur baby.

Become a Pet Caregiver with Wag! today and stand out from the crowd with your new first aid certifications.

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