Those who have faced emergencies can tell you it is essential to get your first aid kit together and get familiar with first aid measures BEFORE you are confronted with an accident, emergency or sudden illness.
By Laura Pakis, Certified Dog Trainer and Professional Blogger
Many situations require fast and correct action to prevent further injury, infection or death. So assemble a first aid kit now, so that you’ll be ready when your pet (or a human) needs immediate help.
Be sure to read through the First Aid Kit list that follows. It will give you an idea of the situations that can and do come up. Being prepared can keep a manageable incident from becoming health-threatening. It will reduce the chance of infection and further complications…reduce stress for everyone…cut recovery time…and empower you to effectively help. Being prepared can even make the difference between life and death.
Keep a first aid safety kit on hand at home and in your car. Take the one from your car with you when you travel with your pet.
Each kit should include the items listed. It might sound like a lot of stuff, but when an accident occurs, these items can help you save the health or life of an animal…or a human.
Waterproof Kit Container:
Write on the container, in indelible ink:
- the phone numbers for your vet
- the closest emergency animal hospital and poison control hotlines
- your own name, address and phone numbers.
Essential Vet and Contact Info:
Prepare and make copies of a list including:
- Phone number for your vet, the closest emergency animal hospital, and poison control hotlines (such as the 2 listed in this tipsheet).
- Your own name, address and phone numbers.
- Your emergency contact person’s numbers, in case you are incapacitated.
- The name, age, breed, sex, identification (such as microchipping information), and any health problems (especially useful information if your petsitter or emergency contact needs to call an emergency medical service about your pet).Y
- Your pet vaccination records.
- Photo of each pet in case it is needed for ID or other purposes.
- Tweezers (flat)
- Scissors slant tip instead of the rounded variety)
- Turkey baster or bulb syringe (for flushing wounds, force feeding)
- Sterile needle (to remove splinters and tick heads)
- 10cc syringe with no needle (for administering medications)
- Tongue depressor to examine mouth
- Rubber gloves
- Nail clippers
- Rectal thermometer (normal body temperature of dogs and cats is 100.5 to 102.5 F; take your pet’s temperature under normal conditions to get a baseline for comparison in case he gets sick or injured)
- Disposable safety razor (for shaving fur from around a wound)
- Towels (at least 2)
- Paper towels
- Blanket (the compact thermal blanket works well; uses include keeping an injured animal from going into shock)
- Bandanna and/or nylon stocking (many uses, including muzzling or securing a torn earflap)
- Dog booties or little socks (to cover wounded paws or to protect so you won’t need to treat)
- 3×3 sterile gauze pads
- Rolled gauze (for bandaging, stabilizing joints, making a muzzle)
- Adhesive first aid tape (in narrow and wide widths)
- Cotton rolled
- Cotton balls
- Bandages (including self-clinging or vet wrap and waterproof types)
- Vet wrap, which sticks to itself but not fur.
- Anti-bacterial wipes or pads
- Hot/cold pack
- Hydrogen peroxide 3% USP (to induce vomiting and to use on infected wounds; check the expiration date from time to time and keep only fresh solution in your kit)
- Activated charcoal tablets (effective in absorbing many toxics)
- Betadine solution (a type of antiseptic iodine medicine for wounds to deter infection)
- Rubbing alcohol (apply on skin as body cooling agent to aid heat stroke or fever; helps break down oils; acts as a drying agent between toes and skin folds; but do not use on wounds as it can damage skin and is not an appropriate antiseptic)
- Bag Balm (especially useful for treating paw pads)
- Petroleum jelly (helpful aid for taking temperature)
- Sterile saline eye solution (to flush out eye contaminants and wounds)
- Artificial tear gel to lubricate eyes after flushing
- Eye ointment with no cortisone
- Epsom salt (mix 1 teaspoon in 2 cups of warm water for drawing out infection and bathing itchy paws and skin)
- Baking soda (good for soothing skin conditions)
- Styptic powder (to stop bleeding of torn toenails, etc.)
- Milk of magnesia (for stomach upset and certain types of poison ingestion)
- Pepto Bismol (for stomach upset and some types of poison ingestion; do not give to cats)
- Kaopectate (OK for cats and dogs)
- Benadryl (for bug bites and stings and other allergic reactions. Use plain Benadryl, not the other formulas.
- Gentle pet sedative such as Rescue Remedy (available at health food and some pet supply stores). Rescue Remedy is a Bach flower essence available in most health food stores. This gentle, natural stress reducing liquid can often help both people and animals recover from injury, fright, illness, travel fatigue and irritation. Put a drop in your water bottle and in their water. To help prevent travel sickness, a common dosage is four drops in the mouth about ten hours before the trip, repeating every four hours as needed. For stressed or injured animals, rub a drop on their ear or put a drop on the towel in their crate or carrier. Flower essences can be used along with conventional medicine.
- Aspirin (for dogs only, 1 tablet per 60 pounds; do not use acetaminophen or ibuprofen; do not give aspirin to cats; since aspirin and other pain relievers can be toxic to any pet, consult your vet and first aid books)
- Can of soft pet food (can help reduce the effect of a poisoning)
- Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid such as Dawn (to clean contaminated skin or sticky substances)
- Plastic baggies
- Muzzle (an injured or scared animal may try to bite)
- Nylon leash
- Pet crate or carrier (a safe, calming place for your pet and a safe way to transport)
- Bottled water
- Bowl or other container to use for water
- Spare leash
Other suggested items:
- Slicker brush
- Tick scoop (handy little device for removing ticks)
- Treats containing sugar (in case the animal experiences hypoglycemic or low glucose episode)
- Betadine Swab Sticks
- Panalog (a healing cream)
- Nexaban (a type of skin glue to glue a wound closed if necessary)
- Penlight (to see how the pupils respond to light; in normal animals, pupils decrease in size when exposed to light)
- 5 inch hemostat, a clamp for blood vessels to stop bleeding
- First Aid Guides: The First Aid Companion For Dogs and Cats
Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook
Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook
If you prefer to purchase a ready-made kit
Pet Life Today has a review of over 25 first aid kits.
NOTE: If someone is taking care of your pet while you’re away: show them where you keep the first aid kit and vet records, your vet and emergency animal hospital info, how to contact you, and the name and phone number of a friend or relative in case you are unavailable. In addition, let your vet know in advance who you have authorized to take your pet to the vet in your absence, and that you will pay for any emergency visit.