As pet parents we know sometimes accidents happen to our furry friends — your cat gets bitten by a neighborhood animal or your dog eats something he shouldn’t have. It happens. This is why it’s essential for you to prepare a pet first-aid kit and keep it nearby.
Pet first-aid kits are not only helpful in the case of natural disasters or other true emergencies — but they can also help you be prepared to deal with any scrape or scratch your pet might come up with.
Here’s everything you need to have in a pet first-aid kit and why each item is so necessary:
It may be smart to muzzle an injured dog — if your dog is in pain or afraid, he’ll be more likely to lash out and try to bite someone, even if he isn’t normally aggressive. A basket muzzle is the best choice to prevent biting.
It’s important to get your dog used to the muzzle beforehand; putting a muzzle on him for the very first time when he’s scared and in pain is a recipe for disaster. Use lots of praise and treats to train your dog to wear a muzzle, starting by showing him the muzzle and touching his nose with it before finally slipping it on.
Gauze and non-stick bandages can be used to wrap and protect wounds and to control bleeding. Adhesive tape is a must, too, to secure the bandages. Just don’t buy human bandages or tape — purchase bandages made especially for pets. Drugstores like Walgreens typically have a section of bandages that are pet-safe. Some even have a bitter taste so if you have to leave the bandage on for a while, your pet won’t chew on it.
There is nothing you can give to cats if they’ve consumed something toxic; veterinary intervention is the only answer. For dogs, however, you can keep hydrogen peroxide (only 3% hydrogen peroxide is safe for dogs) on hand to induce vomiting.
Before using it, however, contact your local poison control center — for some types of poisons, vomiting is not the answer. And if you give your dog the wrong amount, that might result in bloody and uncontrollable vomiting. Keep a note with the hydrogen peroxide in case anyone else is using your first-aid kit, clearly stating that a vet should be asked first.
Your pet’s medical records (such as prescriptions and vaccination records), your vet’s phone number, and the number of the nearest emergency vet clinic and poison control center to your home should stay with you at all times.
Ideally, you won’t need these numbers — but if you do, you’ll be grateful to have them on hand. Just having your vet’s number saved in your phone isn’t enough; phones can run out of battery or be left in the car, so make sure you have a piece of paper where you can physically write down the information you need.
There are a few other things you should keep in your pet first-aid kit:
- Leash and collar. It’s always a good idea to have extras on hand in case yours gets lost or another pet owner needs one.
- Food and treats. Bring along a small Ziploc bag with some extra food and treats in case an injured animal needs them.
- Tweezers. If you see a tick on your pet, you can take it off on the go.
- Antibiotic wipes. Wipes can help clean wounds, reducing the risk of infection.
- Disposable gloves. These can keep your hands clean and help keep germs away from your pet's wound.
- If your pet has regular medications and it’s possible for you to always keep an extra bottle of pills with you, do that, too.
First-aid kits can be small enough to keep in your car (and maybe even your purse or backpack) without a hitch so that you are prepared wherever you and your furry friend go. Pair that with an active pet insurance plan, and you may just have the best preparation you can get.