I received an email last night from a subscriber asking what to put in a pet first aid kit. Although having a first aid kit for your pets is very important in case of an emergency, every pet has different needs. Below are some basics that should be in every kit, and be sure to talk with your vet to determine your specific four legged friends needs.
Items to Include in Your Pet First Aid Kit
Scissors – a myriad of uses, from cutting gauze or items matted in her fur, freeing her from entanglements, etc. Get the bandage style with rounded ends to minimize discomfort.
Heavy plastic card - such as a credit card to scrape stingers.
Sterile eye wash – get the kind that has the “eye cup” with it, and make sure it’s not contact lens solution.
Tweezers – removal of foreign objects from wounds.
Tick remover tool – if you live in or near a tick-infested area, consider investing in a tool that allows the easy removal of ticks and reduces infection and damage.
Ear wash – be sure you know how to use this so as not to damage the ear.
Styptic pencil - stops bleeding in torn nails. Can be found in the men’s shaving section. Cornstarch also works for torn nails, but not for skin wounds.
QuikClot – to stop wound bleeding.
Gauze rolls – in a variety of sizes.
Vet Wrap – this is a conforming bandage wrap used over a telfa pad or roll gauze that comes in many colors and two sizes (2″ and 4″ – pick one that best fits your pet). It clings to itself and is semi-watertight. Caution is advised to not wrap this too tight. It is best to unwrap it from the roll, then use it for the bandage with very light tension. It can be purchased at many feed stores (horse section) and some veterinary clinics.
Telfa pads – non-stick dressings for bandaging a wound.
Flashlight with extra batteries
Antiseptic wash or wipes – look for non-stinging preparations such as chlorhexidine or betadine.
Antibiotic ointment – over-the-counter “general purpose” antibiotic ointment for light use with minor skin wounds. Not for eye use. Caution is advised for cats that may ingest by licking. The antibiotics are absorbed via the skin, remaining ointment may collect debris or actually slow healing in some cases. Use with discretion.
Vet-prescribed pain relief (NSAID) – speak to your vet about obtaining as-needed first aid kit pain relief. Do not use human prescription or over-the-counter pain medications for pets. Some medications, like Tylenol, are poisonous and may be fatal to pets.
Needle Nose pliers
Latex or plastic exam gloves – for your protection and your pet’s protection – use when the situation is messy.
A muzzle – or materials to make a muzzle. Even the most well-trained animals may bite when injured or afraid.
Thermometer – know the normals for dog and cat vital signs and how to use the thermometer.
Water-based lubricating jelly – for use with rectal thermometers.
Ice and hot packs – cool down skin after a burn or keep an animal warm if hypothermic. Always use a cloth between the pack and skin and check frequently for redness or irritation, remembering the rule 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off.
Extra towels, wash cloths and a blanket – use for washing, keeping warm/cool, and if necessary, a way to transport the injured pet (sling).
Diphenhydramine (aka Benadryl) – for stings and allergic reactions – speak with your vet first about proper dosing.
Syringe or large eye dropper – to flush wounds or administer fluids by mouth.
A list of phone numbers – your regular vet, the emergency vet, animal control, and animal poison control numbers.
Another tip: program these numbers in your cell phone.
A sturdy box – ideally plastic or metal – to hold all of your supplies and is easy to carry and pack with you will complete your kit.
Extra Leash or Pet carrierCustomizing A First Aid Kit for Your Pet
Different species, age groups, and pet lifestyles have different first aid kit needs. For example, a ferret or diabetic pet kit should include honey or Karo syrup in the event of a low blood sugar episode. Pets who take medications regularly should have a couple days supply of all current medications (be sure to rotate meds to make sure they don’t expire). A back country or hunting dog kit may also include a meta-splint in the event of a broken leg.
Your veterinarian can help you customize a first aid kit to meet your pet’s additional medical needs.
Building a First Aid Kit Isn’t Enough
Purchasing or building a kit is a great first step, but won’t be a lot of help in the event of an emergency if you are not familiar with how and when to use the items. I would highly recommend any or all of the following to be prepared in the event of an emergency:
- Take a pet first aid class – check with your veterinarian, community college or the Red Cross.
- Read pet first aid or animal health books – also a good idea to include one in the kit.
- Use the Jive Media iPhone app for Pet First Aid or similar (there are several) – to familiarize yourself and have “on hand” at all times.
- Familiarize yourself with pet emergency clinics – in your area and to places you travel to.
Being prepared in the face of an emergency is calming and helps ensure the health and safety of both you and your pets.
And never use Rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide on your pet after the initial cleansing (if you must) These are not good for any living tissue as they inhibit new skin cell growth.
Emergency Preparations for your Dog
Muzzle, leash and 98 more uses for a bandana!