Americans spend more than $69 billion a year on their pets. Some of this money should go to a basic first-aid kit to take with you or have on hand should your pet get sick or injured.
You never know when an emergency is going to strike, and as a dog mom or cat dad, you want to be prepared. Here's a list of everything you need to have in your at-home pet first aid kit, so you can handle just about anything.
Assembling a Pet First Aid Kit
Make sure you have your kit assembled and ready to go. After you assemble, take your list to the vet to see if you are missing anything for your pet. Also, it doesn't hurt to have two kits - one for your home and car.
Luckily, a lot of these items on this list are also good for human first-aid kits. You can buy most of these products in bulk to be sure you have an adequate supply.
Be sure you check your kit at least once a year. You need to make sure nothing has expired, and all the medications and paperwork are current.
Wound Care and Bandages
You will need a supply of gauze rolls and medical tape. Also, be sure to have scissors so you can cut easily. Other items you should include for wound care include:
- Blood clotting powder (like ClotIt)
- Bottle of saline wound flush
- Small scissors to cut wraps
- Self-adhesive wrap
- Cotton balls
- Cotton-tipped swabs
- Wound disinfectants like diluted Povidone iodine or Chlorhexidine diacetate
- Non-stick bandage pads
These will help dress a wound or burn. You can use any combination of the above.
In addition to bandages, you should have extra medications such as hydrogen peroxide (3 percent only). Peroxide induces vomiting for poison. It can also help de-skunk if your doggo was a little too curious about the strange woodland creature he found in the backyard.
Milk of Magnesia or activated charcoal can also help absorb poison. You should check with your vet first before using, and simply explain that you are assembling a pet emergency kit and want to take all the necessary precautions.
Antibiotic ointment is another must have. You can buy them in individual packs or bulk, to ensure you have enough on hand. These are good to apply to cuts, scrapes, and other wounds before you put on a bandage.
Benadryl (or 25 mg diphenhydramine) helps treat allergic reactions or insect stings. Since pets come in all shapes and sizes, you'll want to ask your vet what dosage to give your pet, so you don't accidentally give them too much. Be sure you buy diphenhydramine only and not a combination pill such as cold and flu.
You should also include a couple of doses of your pet's regular medication, for when you're traveling and will be away from home for an extended period of time. We all forget something, and having a few backup doses will ensure your pet is taken care of. Make sure you keep this up-to-date and check the expirations dates. Throw out any expired medication!
Other Handy Tools
We've found several tools that are useful to have on hand both humans and animals. You will be glad you have these in an emergency and none of these items take up much space.
1. Beard Trimmer
Battery powered beard trimmer can help remove "sticky stuff" from your pet's fur. You can trim the fur around a wound and have less chance to cut your pet's fur than you do with scissors.
2. Digital Thermometer
A digital thermometer can help you check for a heat stroke or low body temperature. The normal body temperature for dogs and cats is higher than humans and averages around 100 - 102.5F. The most reliable way to take the temperature is rectal.
3. Petroleum-based Lube
You may also want to have some petroleum-based lube should you have to take your pet's temperature. Handy lifehack: you can also use this lube to keep fur out of your pet's wounds.
4. Cold Packs
Instant cold packs can help cool a pet down and decrease swelling from an insect sting or another injury. Don't let your dog chew on these packs! They're often made with inedible materials and can cause your dog to get sick.
A muzzle is another handy thing to have should your pet get injured. Unfortunately, pets can bite when distressed or in pain. If you're a dog owner, make sure you find a muzzle that would allow a dog to pant and is not too restrictive.
6. Tick Remover
Another handy gadget is a tick remover. If you have to remove a tick from your pet, you need to keep the tick in a container so the vet can identify the tick in case it is a carrier of lyme disease. You can also use fine-tipped tweezers to remove the tick from the animal. The CDC recommends grabbing the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible and removing in an upward motion. Be careful not to twist or jerk the tick. Otherwise, the tick's mouth-parts may break off and stay embedded in the skin which can cause an infection. Inspect the area closely, and if you see that there are bits of the insect that remain in the bite, use the tweezers to remove the parts.
7. Old Credit Card
If your pet gets stung by a bee or wasp, you can use an old credit card or loyalty card to remove the stinger. Tweezers can squeeze the venom sack and create a worse reaction.
It's important to keep your pet in mind when you assemble an emergency kit. You need to have a supply of food, fresh water, and towels or blankets. You should have enough food to last for at least a week.
A collapsible bowl for water is a very handy tool to have, but the important thing to remember is to always have a supply of fresh water on hand for both you and your pet.
Other Important Miscellaneous Items
These items are just as essential:
- Emergency phone numbers (vet and poison control)
- Extra leash
- Pair of latex gloves
- Ear cleaning solution
- Pillowcase to confine a small dog or cat
- Nail clippers
- Eyedropper or syringe
- Dog treats
- Splints or tongue depressors
1. Proof of Ownership
You should also have proof of ownership and list of current vaccines in case you need to travel to a different vet or emergency hospital. You should also have ID tags on your pet at all time should they run off. Microchipping is another great way to help reunite you with your pet.
2. "Pets Inside!" Stickers
You can also buy "pets inside stickers" to have on your home windows. This alerts first responders that you have pets and they will know to look for them to help them escape them home during an emergency.
3. A Physical Emergency Manual
If you are out in the wilderness, your phone may not have a good signal or may have a low battery. You may want to find a physical copy of a pet emergency manual for advice on how to handle first aid for various situations, so you don't get stuck without access to the internet when your pet needs immediate attention.
Pre-assembled First-Aid Kits
If you would rather just purchase a ready-made kit, check out these first aid kits. It's an easy way to get started and have the essentials on hand in an emergency. It is still a great idea to review through this list and add items that don't come in a pre-made kit (like a beard trimmer!). Keep in mind that their cost varies depending on the contents of the box.
Lots of Love and Attention
When our furbabies are injured, it can be easy to panic and forget in the chaos of the emergency that we're also there to help them feel loved and supported. Your dog or cat will be just as scared and confused as you are. They may have absolutely no idea why they are even in pain. We want you to take care of business and ensure they are safe and protected, but be sure to also offer a reassuring pat or hug, or a "good boy" to help put them at ease.
Looking for First-Aid Supplies?
Now that you know what to include in your pet first aid kit, you can find some of these items at Arrowhead Animal Health. We have developed quality wraps and tapes for more than 30 years. You can find adhesive tape products for all size pets - including equine. Reach out to us if you have any questions. We're happy to help!