A pet first aid kit and a human first aid kit have one key similarity: it’s one of those items that is important to have, but hopefully will be unneeded.
As much as you hope that it will remain untouched, if you find yourself in an emergency situation with your pet, having a fully stocked pet first aid kit could mean the difference between life and death.
While pet first aid kits can be purchased from your local pet supply store, you can just as easily make one yourself. By doing this, you’re able to customize it to make it suited for your pet’s individual needs. If you’re interested in putting together your own kit, below is a checklist of the must-have items to include.
Pet First Aid Book
One of the first items you should include in your kit is certified pet first aid book. In the event of an emergency situation, this book will be critical in helping to guide you through the basics of pet first aid. Before adding it to the kit, take the time to review the book thoroughly so you are familiar with its contents and have a foundation of knowledge to rely on in the event of an emergency.
Important Phone Numbers
If you’ve ever been in an emergency situation, you know that it can be difficult to think clearly. This means that even numbers you know by heart can be forgotten which is why it’s good practice to have a current list with all important phone numbers included in your pet first aid kit. On this list should be your vet’s information, your local emergency vet clinic, animal poison control, as well as your own contact information if you are leaving your pet with a sitter.
Alongside your important phone numbers should be an up-to-date copy of your pet’s vaccination records. This way you won’t have to guess on the dates in an emergency situation and it will ensure that your pet’s sitter has all of the correct information.
Before you provide any medical care to your pet, you’ll want to ensure that both you and your pet are protected from the spread of germs. The best way to do this is through the use of disposable gloves. When assembling your kit, add a few pairs of disposable gloves, so that you have a spare in case they need to be changed part way through providing treatment.
In the event that your pet becomes injured, they will likely display distressed behavior such as pacing. Unfortunately, this behavior can worsen the injury. So, it’s a good idea to keep a spare nylon leash in the kit so you are able to safely restrain your pet. You can get an inexpensive leash in case you need to leave it with your pet at the animal clinic.
As we mentioned, injured pets often do not display their normal behavior. When hurt and scared, even the most friendly pet may lash out at anyone around them, even their owner. This is why it’s recommended to have a muzzle available that you can put on your pet before providing first aid care. If you don’t have a muzzle, medical gauze wrapped securely around the snout is a good substitute.
In addition to being used as a makeshift muzzle, bandages, gauze, and vet wrap can help you to control bleeding and cover wounds until you make it to the vet. When choosing bandages for your pet first aid kit, it’s a good idea to stock a variety of shapes and sizes; you never know where on your pet they will need to be used. It’s also important to remember that when using bandages, avoid placing adhesives directly on your pet’s fur when possible, as they can be difficult and uncomfortable to remove.
Because many bandages and gauze do not have adhesive, you’ll want to keep a roll of medical tape in your pet first aid kit. The great thing about medical tape is that it is designed to adhere to the skin but can come off easily, so if you need to stick something directly to your pet’s skin or fur it will be able to be removed much more comfortably.
Having bandages, gauze, vet wrap, medical tape and other items in your kit are great, but if you don’t have scissors to cut them they will not be very helpful. Scissors can also be critical in situations where fur needs to be trimmed away to better access a pet’s injury. Look for a pair of good quality medical scissors that do not have sharp points; if your pet is squirming, you do not want to accidentally poke them with sharp points.
Tweezers are another small but important tool you’ll want to include in your pet first aid kit. In the event that you need to remove something that has become embedded in your pet’s skin, such as a tick, keep a dedicated pair of tweezers on hand. When choosing tweezers, look for a pair that is stainless steel with a fine tip that can remove even the smallest embedded objects.
Rectal thermometer and lubricant
This one can be a bit unpleasant, but a rectal thermometer is the best way to get an accurate reading of your pet’s temperature. To make insertion as comfortable as possible for your pet, ensure that you have a small quantity of water-based lubricant included in your pet first aid kit.
If your pet has a small injury, you may, after cleaning the wound, apply antibacterial ointment before dressing to reduce the possibility of infection. There are antibacterial ointments specifically for animals, and usually this is your best best because the formulation is specific to pets. But, you can check with your vet to see if there are any over-the-counter ointments that will help pets as well as people. If your pet’s wound is sensitive to the touch, you should consider an antibacterial spray, such as Vetericyn which is available online from PetCareRX.
Hydrogen peroxide is another important item to keep stocked in your pet first aid kit, as it actually serves two distinct purposes. The first, and more obvious, use is as a cleaning solution for wounds before they are bandaged up. However, what many pet owners don’t know is that hydrogen peroxide can be used to induce vomiting if your pet has ingested a poison. It’s important to note that before you attempt to induce vomiting you should always consult with your vet or animal poison control helpline to ensure you are doing it safely.
In addition to hydrogen peroxide, having dedicated antiseptic wipes are useful for when you need to quickly clean up a wound before bandaging it up. Just like the peroxide, these wipes can help reduce the chance of infection. They are also good for cleaning instruments before and after each use.
This one may seem a bit odd, but when you think about it makes sense. Dish soap is designed specifically to remove tough grease and oil, making it the perfect cleaner to remove toxins from your pet’s skin and fur. After you use it, however, ensure that you thoroughly rinse all soap off as prolonged exposure can cause skin dryness and irritation.
The final item that no pet first aid kit is complete without is treats. Treats can be used to calm your pet as well as distract them while they are receiving first aid treatment. While your pet’s attention is focused on the treat, you can quickly finish treatment, such as cleaning or bandaging a wound.
Having a well-stocked pet first aid kit is great, but only if you know how to use the items that are in it. As you are assembling the kit, take the time to review each item and how to use them properly. If you are ever unsure or would like further instruction, your veterinary team is your best resource. Don’t worry about asking “dumb” questions – they will be happy to answer any of your questions and are sure to be impressed at your initiative!
Also, make sure other members of the family who might need to access the pet first aid kit know where it is and how to use it. Everyone – including your pets – will feel better knowing it is there.