When a pet emergency strikes, the last thing you should be doing is scrambling for items you need. Assembling a first aid kit for pets will give you the peace of mind that you’ll be prepared in case of an emergency. Make sure to check your cat first aid kit or dog first aid kit every six months or so to make any necessary replacements or updates.
Here are 10 supplies you should always have stocked in your first aid kit for pets.
1. Emergency Contact Card
Use a contact card to write down the phone numbers for your veterinarian, a 24-hour emergency clinic and animal poison control. If you have to leave your pet with a sitter, a copy of the card can be left with them.
It’s also a good idea to keep a copy in your wallet. There are products available, like the Imagine This Company “Rescue Our Pets” decal and wallet card, that include stickers and wallet cards where you can write down the types of pets you have and emergency contacts. The stickers can be placed at each entrance to your home for emergency responders, while the wallet card can be kept in your wallet or purse at all times.
2. Blunt-Tipped Scissors
A pair of scissors can be an overlooked element in a first aid kit for pets, but without them, it’s often difficult to administer care. Whether you’re removing hair near an injury or applying bandages, scissors always come in handy.
Look for blunt-tipped scissors, such as the ConairPRO dog rounded-tip shears. You don’t want to accidentally nick your pet when cutting close to the skin. This is particularly important when trimming hair near the eyes, nose or ears.
Bandages are staples in any dog first aid kit or cat first aid kit. In many cases, the bandage you place after an injury will be temporary until you can get to your veterinarian. Even so, it serves a vital role by providing support and preventing contamination.
Make sure bandages are snug enough so that they won’t fall off but not so tight that they compromise blood flow.
You can make bandaging easier by choosing a self-adhering bandage, such as the Andover Healthcare PetFlex paw print dog, cat and small animal bandage. This bandage won’t stick to skin or fur and is made with a material that applies pressure while reducing the chances of cutting off circulation.
4. Sterile Eye Solution
It’s scary to think of chemicals or foreign objects being anywhere near your pet’s eyes. If an irritant finds its way into the eye, the animal is likely to scratch or rub and make it worse.
Since eye injuries can be true emergencies, consult your veterinarian before attempting any treatment at home.
If you are told to flush your pet’s eye, you’ll want a good rinse close at hand. While generic eyewashes are widely available, a few have been designed to address the specific needs of dogs and cats, like Nutri-Vet cat eye rinse and Burt’s Bees dog eye wash solution.
5. Latex or Rubber Gloves
When providing first aid for pets, gloves are essential items to have. In addition to protecting yourself, using gloves helps decrease your pet’s risk of infection. It’s surprisingly easy to accidentally contaminate an animal’s wound.
Consider keeping multiple sets of gloves in your kit. One pair could rip, or you might need the assistance of another person.
6. Plastic Syringe
Anyone who has tried to give liquid-based oral pet meds to a fidgety pet knows the value of a syringe. A needleless syringe can also be used to give oral fluids to a dehydrated pet, or you can use it to flush out and clean a wound.
Make sure to keep your syringe sealed up and clean until you need it. The Four Paws easy feeder syringes come with two separate tips, providing flexibility for use. If you need to give your pet a thicker medication, opt for a tapered tip.
Depending on your individual dog or cat’s needs, you may need to have specific medications (including prescription medications) in your first aid kit for pets, but make sure to keep an eye on those expiration dates.
In addition to any prescription medications, it’s also practical to stock your kit with a couple of standard remedies.
Styptic powder is used to stop mild bleeding, particularly if a nail has been broken or cut too close to the quick. Miracle Care Kwik-Stop styptic powder for dogs, cats and birds includes benzocaine, which helps ease pain.
Another first aid kit classic is hydrogen peroxide. With permission from your veterinarian or a poison control professional, it can be used to induce vomiting.
When a sharp object, such as a thorn or piece of glass, becomes lodged in a pet’s skin, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to remove with just your fingers. Tweezers are the easier, safer and more sanitary choice.
You may also need tweezers for tick removal. When pulling out a tick, you need to grab it as close to your pet’s skin as possible—a feat that is much simpler with tweezers.
An option like the TickEase tick removal tweezer tool will make this unpleasant task a little easier.
9. Antiseptic Wipes
Using antiseptic wipes or rinses on your pet’s wound will minimize the risk of infection. Wipes are especially convenient for cleaning around the face or in-between the toes.
If you’re assembling a kit for both dog and cat first aid, look for products like the Pet MD chlorhexidine antiseptic dog and cat wipes. They are sting-free and safe for both species.
10. Digital Thermometer
Measuring your pet’s temperature can help you understand how serious their condition is. When consulting your veterinarian over the phone, it will also be good information to convey.
For stress-free insertion, apply a petroleum or water-based lubricant to the end of the thermometer. If possible, have someone gently restrain and distract your pet while you lift the tail only as far as necessary to slide only the metal tip of the thermometer into your pet’s rectum (approximately one-half inch). Make sure you purchase a thermometer that reads up to at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
11. Treats (Bonus Item!)
If you’re in a situation that requires first aid for pets, chances are good that your pal could use a distraction. That’s where dog treats or cat treats come in—as long as your pet can safely eat, of course. Do not feed pets who are vomiting, are unable to swallow normally, are having seizures or are mentally impaired.
If you’d like an option that serves the dual purpose of being a tasty treat and medicine-hider, try Greenies Pill Pockets canine chicken flavor dog treats or Greenies Pill Pockets feline salmon flavor cat treats.
By: Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM
Featured Image: iStock.com/PK-Photos