April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, with the warmer weather, this is a perfect time to address items that you can keep on hand to protect your pet in the case of an accident. Whether out for a walk, playing in the yard, or just wandering around the house, your pet is exposed to many things that could cause them harm. Certain circumstances to be prepared for are cuts, stings or animal bites, choking, or an allergic reaction. While the chances of something harming your pet are usually low, it is best to have the necessary items on hand in case something were to happen. Today we want to discuss the most essential items to keep in your pet first aid kit and provide a few resources we recommend.
We recommend creating more than one first aid kit for your pet. You might want to keep at least two, one to keep in your vehicle and one to keep in your home. This way if you have taken your dog to the park or on a hike, you will still have one near if an emergency situation did arise. These items should fit in a small duffle bag or tub that can be easily stored in our trunk or in a cabinet. Below is a list of items that are great to have on hand.
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Fresh 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Disposable gloves
- Ice pack
- Scissors with blunt end
- OTC antibiotic ointment/cream
- Anti-diarrheal medications
- Oral syringe or turkey baster
- Liquid dishwashing detergent (for bathing)
- Alcohol wipes
- Styptic powder
- Saline eye solution and artificial tear gel
- Rectal thermometer
- Antihistamines (i.e. allergy medications) – Benadryl is generally safe for pets, but please contact your veterinarian for dosing.
- Any medications your pet may use regularly. It is recommended to keep a one- or two-day supply of medication, especially if hiking in dangerous or remote areas.
- Phone number, clinic name, address of your veterinarian, and local veterinary emergency clinics
It is important to check these items 3-4 times each year to ensure nothing has expired. For a PDF of this list and for more resources, visit https://www.aspcapro.org/resource/saving-lives-shelter-health-poison-control/how-make-pet-first-aid-kit .
Vetsource gives excellent advice on how to use many of these items, and gives examples of situations where these items may be needed. https://vetsource.com/news/pet-first-aid-101/ It is essential to familiarize yourself with these items before they are needed. It is always best to be overly prepared, as the stress of an emergency can make it harder to find or read instructions. Printing instructions to keep in your first aid kit could also be very helpful and could save time in an emergency.
Several veterinarians offer first aid classes for their customers. You can also find several resources online. CPR and the Heimlich maneuver are essential procedures that every pet owner should understand. If you are unable to find a local course, you may be able to find a course through PetTech. If online learning is preferred, ProPetHero offers online courses that you can take at your own pace.
We always hope that you and your pets stay safe but we hope that this information helps you prepare for the unexpected.