New Pet Owner
First Aid Kit for Pets
In case of an emergency, are you prepared to help your dog or cat until you can reach the veterinarian? To be on the safe side, stock up on these easy-to-find items.
An ideal pet first aid kit includes items that you will be comfortable using and will cause no harm to your pet. Some pet parents who are trained in first aid may use more elaborate kits. However, for most people, the following list comprises an adequate first aid kit:
- Rolls of 2- and 3-inch gauze
- Gauze pads in a variety of sizes
- Adhesive for bandages
- Non-stick bandages
- Self-clinging wrap
- Antibiotic salve
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Alcohol and alcohol wipes
- Diphenhydramine-containing antihistamine—only given at your veterinarian's recommendation
- Eye wash or sterile water
- Cotton balls
- Paper towels
- Bath towels
- Plastic garbage bags
- Veterinarian contact information, including emergency clinics and the HomeAgain® Emergency Medical Hotline
First aid kit items should be stored in an easy-to-open, transportable box with a handle. A plastic tackle or toolbox works well. They have compartments or trays that can help organize the items. Clearly label the box "Pet First Aid Kit" and store it in an accessible area. If you often drive with your pet, prepare a duplicate kit to keep in your car.
Mark the expiration date of first aid kit items that have a shelf life with a permanent pen and replace them before they expire. Marking them will serve as a reminder to check the date, as well as make them easy to spot.
If an emergency should occur where there's more than one person on site, let the person most trained in first aid handle injuries. This is especially true if the pet's owner is too emotional to make decisions.
Before and after you or anyone else administers first aid to a pet, wash your hands in hot water to avoid infection. Be very careful, any pet in pain will bite or scratch; even gentle pets will bite or scratch when in pain. Consider using a muzzle when dealing with wounded pets.
Keep in mind that the purpose of administering first aid is to stabilize a pet until he or she can be brought to a veterinarian. If the incident occurs away from home (beyond traveling distance to your regular veterinarian), having contact information for a local emergency veterinary clinic with you can save your pet's life. Add your veterinarian and emergency clinic's address to your GPS, so you can easily access it in an emergency.
Being prepared is the first step in first aid, so it's a good idea to take a pet first aid course. Some veterinarians offer first aid classes for their customers, so check with yours to see if they offer training. Or study emergency care from a book, video, app or ask your veterinarian for tips.
Helpful Household Items
In addition to your first aid kit, several household items can be helpful in case of emergency. A blanket or large towel can be used as a stretcher to transport an injured pet. Empty, cleaned, two-liter soda bottles can be filled with warm (not hot) or cold (not ice) water to warm a cold animal or cool an overheated animal. Cold water also helps to reduce swelling. If these extra items cannot fit into the first aid kit, keep them nearby for easy access.
For more information, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).