By Dr. Méline Joaris
A basic first aid kit is something that most people have at home to use in case of emergencies or minor injuries like cuts, scrapes, and bee stings. But, have you thought about a pet-specific first aid kit for your fuzzy friends?
You’re probably wondering: When would you use it? What would you do if your pet needed quick medical attention? The obvious and best answer to these questions is to consult with your veterinarian when you have any concerns. They’re your best resource and know the ins and outs of what is best for your fuzzy. However, if you’re in a pinch, there are many minor pet health problems that you can handle on your own at home with the proper tools. Here’s what we recommend for you to have at home:
- A muzzle: An essential for dogs with serious injuries or in fearful situations. A fearful pet is more likely to put itself (and YOU) in dangerous (although unintended) situations. Protect yourself first so you can better care for your pet. Do NOT use this if your pet is coughing, choking, vomiting, or having trouble breathing in general. For many dogs, a basket muzzle can be more comfortable as it allows them to pant. - Towel: Similar to a muzzle for dogs, a towel may help protect you as you try to care for an injured cat. You can wrap the patient in a towel so they can’t scratch you or bite you out of fear if you are trying to rescue them from a painful or scary situation.
- Bandaging material, like sterile gauze and a self-adherent wrap.
- Cleaning supplies, like mild soap and water or hydrogen peroxide to clean cuts and scrapes.
- Sterile saline eye wash to rinse eyes- great to use after dusty hikes and playing at the beach.
- Benadryl, given at 1mg per pound of body weight, can be very useful for bee stings, insect bites, and allergic reactions. (12 lb dog = 12 mg of benadryl. 50 lb dog = 50 mg of benadryl).
- A cone (or E-collar) to prevent your dog from chewing or licking wounds.
- Topical antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin, can be applied to minor cuts and scrapes. Always use a cone afterward to prevent your dog from licking it off! - OTC chlorhexidene scrub is available at regular pharmacies and can be used to clean cuts. Never use hydrogen peroxide, as it is damaging to tissues and retards wound healing rather than helping it.
- Tweezers, for removal of ticks, burrs, foxtails, insect stingers, and splinters
- Styptic Powder, also known as “Quik-Stop”, for stopping bleeding on broken toenails.
- Instant Ice Packs for icing injuries or cooling down an overheated dog
- A rectal thermometer and lube to check for fevers or overheating. Your dog’s normal temperature is between 100 and 103F.
-A list of your local veterinarians and emergency facilities.
-A copy of your pet’s medical records.
Of course, all the materials in the world are useless if you don’t know how to use them. When used inappropriately, most of these items could actually cause harm to your fuzzy. That’s why when in doubt, the best decision is to contact your veterinarian for advice.
For further education on how to be prepared in an emergency, check out the CPR and First Aid courses offered online by the Red Cross: