by Sid Kirchheimer
It’s “Pet First Aid Awareness Month.”
Hmmm, maybe just a coincidence or perfectly planned timing by the American Red Cross to promote awareness (and prepareness) among pet owners?
After all, besides that other April angst impetus, what else "taxes" emotions with fear and feelings of helplessness more than when a beloved pet is suddenly injured or ill, and you know that seconds count – but have no pet first aid kit?
Ready-made kits are sold that offer convenience – and ideally, an instructional manual – but if you prefer to stock your own kit for home and car, here’s what to include:
Paperwork: Phone numbers for your veterinarian, nearby emergency-veterinary clinics and a poison control center hotline such as that run by the ASPCA at 1-888-426-4435. Also keep a copy of medical records, including rabies and other vaccines, and a recent photo in case your pet gets lost.
Gauze: For wrapping wounds and muzzling injured pets.
Nonstick bandages, pads and clean cloth strips or towel: To help control bleeding and cover wounds.
Adhesive tape: To secure gauze or nonstick bandages. Human adhesive bandages such as Band-Aids should not pet used on pets, says the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Blunt-end scissors: Handy to cut fur that’s covering up a wound, or to free pets trapped in some kind of entanglement.
Antibiotic ointment: Check with a vet before using antibiotic ointment where pets can lick it.
Milk of magnesia or activated charcoal: Either help absorb poison. But always contact your vet or a poison control center before inducing vomiting or treating an animal for poison.
Hydrogen peroxide (3 percent): To induce vomiting, if advised to do so.
Rectal “fever” thermometer: The temperature or “regular” thermometers may not be high enough to gauge fever in pets, notes the AVMA, so ask your vet for recommendations. Make sure you know how to use it in advance.
Petroleum jelly: To lubricate the thermometer.
Pillow case: For confining cats if necessary.
Ice and hot packs: To cool burned skin, or keep pets warm (following a fall into icy waters, for instance). Use a cloth or towel between pack and skin to avoid irritation.
Syringe: To administer meds by mouth or to clean out any wounds.
Eye Wash: To clean irritated eyes.
Tweezers: Always useful for removing foreign materials, including ticks.
Leash: An on-hand spare could prove invaluable.
About pain medication: When in doubt, leave them out – and always check with your vet before administering any “human” pain reliever. Some vets say that a single, baby-dose aspirin (81 milligrams) is safe for some dogs, but acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen should be avoided for dogs and cats.