As a pet owner, you never know when an emergency may arise. No matter how caring and conscientious you are as a pet owner, there’s always a chance that your pet will get sick or injured. You, as a pet owner, will need to be prepared.
Maybe your dog slips on the hardwood floor and gashes his head open (as my dog did one time). Or maybe your cat returns home with injuries from a cat fight. Or maybe your dog gets sick at 2:00 o’clock in the morning – you’ll want to have everything you need on-hand inside the home because pet emergencies always seem to occur on nights and weekends – when the stores are closed and only the emergency veterinary clinic is open.
In addition to creating a pet first aid kit for the home, you’ll also want to keep an emergency first aid kit for pets in the car. This will come in handy if your pet gets hurt while you’re out and about, and it may be helpful if you encounter another person’s pet that’s been hurt. I keep an emergency kit in my car and I’ve used it three times in the past year, for two animal-related emergencies and one human-related emergency. Trust me – a pet first aid kit will come in handy some day, if not for a dog, then for a human in need.
What Should I Include In a First Aid Kit for My Pet?
The following items should be included in your pet first aid kits – one for the home and one for the road:
Every pet owner’s first aid kit should include the following supplies:
- 4 Rolls of Gauze – For bandaging wounds and creating splints.
- 1 Box of Large Gauze Pads – For absorbing blood. You’ll put these directly on the wound and then wrap the rolled gauze around the gauze pads.
- 1 Travel Size Pack of Cotton Swabs – For applying antibiotic ointment or cleaning a wound.
- 2 Ace Bandages – For creating splints or applying a pressure wrap on a bleeding limb.
- 1 Bottle of Betadine – For disinfecting wounds (no sting) and preventing infection.
- 2 Bottles of Wound Wash Saline – For flushing puncture wounds or flushing wounds near the eyes. Wound wash saline is also helpful in removing debris from a wound when you’re away from home.
- 2 Instant Cold Packs – For reducing swelling associated with an injury or wound.
- 1 Large Blanket – For warming an animal who’s been exposed to cold. You’ll also want to keep a dog warm if he’s sustained serious injuries and is on the verge of going into shock. A large blanket can also be used as a stretcher for a pet. You can also throw the blanket over an injured animal to catch it or to protect yourself while putting the injured animal into a carrier or box.
- 1 Small Blanket – You never know when you may need a smaller blanket too! You can use it as a makeshift bandage, you can tear a strip to create a muzzle – they’re good for just about any emergency situation you encounter.
- 1 Pair of Tweezers – For removing a tick, or removing debris from a wound.
- 1 Stethoscope – For monitoring an animal’s heart rate or breathing. This can be vital in determining if a pet is seriously ill.
- 1 Muzzle – A sick or injured pet can be aggressive. So if you need to move or handle an injured animal, you should put a muzzle on him first. You should also muzzle an animal before attempting to clean or bandage wounds. Pain can cause even a loving, docile pet to snap or bite.
- 1 Medicine Dropper – For giving medication to a sick or injured pet.
- 1 Tube of Antibiotic Ointment – For application to wounds as a method of preventing infection.
- 1 Pair of Scissors – For cutting bandages, tape or trimming fur around an injury site.
- 1 Roll of Medical Tape – For securing a bandage in place or taping the end of an Ace Bandage in place.
- 1 Roll of Duct Tape – Duct tape is useful for many things. It’s useful to create a splint, a muzzle and lots of other things. If you had to transport a wild animal to a veterinary clinic, you could use duct tape to tape a blanket across the back of the front seats of your car to create a barrier. No emergency kit would be complete without duct tape!
- 2 Wire Coat Hangers – For creating a splint for a broken limb or injured limb. Uncoated wire hangers are the easiest to straighten. You can use duct tape to tape over the ends of the wire so they don’t poke the animal’s skin.
- 6 Washcloths – For cleaning an animal, wiping away blood – just about anything!
- 2 Hand Towels – Also good for cleaning an animal, wiping away blood, etc.
- 1 Gallon of Water – For helping a dehydrated animal, flushing wounds, washing away blood – you name it! This is especially important for the car first aid kit.
- 5 Days Worth of Pet Food – You never know when this may come in handy; always keep some extra food on-hand. If you’re storing dry food, change out the bag every 60-90 days to ensure freshness. If you’re storing wet food, be sure to include a can opener!
- 1 Plastic Bowl – For eating or drinking. Again, this is especially important for the car pet emergency kit.
Medications for the Pet Emergency Kits
Several important pet medications should be included in an emergency kit. Remember, the medications are useless without knowing the dosage, so purchase a handbook for pet-safe medications or ask your veterinarian for the proper dosage information for each drug and keep the information written on an index card in the emergency kit.
The following medications should also be included in each pet first aid kit
- Benadryl (for allergic reactions)
- Mylanta Gas (for gas, upset stomach, bloating)
- Pepto Bismol (for vomiting, upset stomach)
- Aspirin (buffered – for pain and inflammation)
- Milk of Magnesia (for toxicity)
- Activated Charcoal (for toxicity)
- Mineral Oil (for constipation)
- Glycerin Suppositories (for constipation)
Important Phone Numbers for Your Pet First Aid Kits
Pet owners should also include several phone numbers in the car pet emergency kit and in the home pet emergency kit. When an emergency arises, minutes count and the last thing you want to do is search the internet or phone book for a phone number!
Include the following phone numbers:
- Your normal vet
- 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic
- Pet poison control center
A Note About Medication-Reliant Pets
Some pets require a daily medication to survive.
For these animals, pet owners should also include a three-days worth of any pet vital medications in the pet first aid kit. If a natural disaster evacuation is necessary, or if you go on a camping trip and forget your pet’s medication, then you’ll have some extra medication in the emergency kit to get you by.
This extra supply of medication is vital for pets who rely on a medication for survival, like a dog with diabetes, epilepsy or Addison’s Disease. Ask your veterinarian for a bit extra medication for your kit next time you get a refill – he or she will be happy to supply you with the extra doses for your pet emergency kit.
Looking for more tips on how to be prepared to help your pet in a time of need? Check out Handling Pet Emergencies for more tips.
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