Accidents happen. Maybe your pet snoops in your purse and chews open a bottle of ibuprofen. Or your dog gets nipped by another at the dog park. Whether your pet’s just not acting like themselves or it’s a medical emergency, you should always call your veterinarian before treating the problem yourself. However, it’s a good idea to have a pet-specific first aid kit on hand. Just in case.
First aid kits come in handy for cases when your veterinarian doesn’t encourage you to come in right away, when the doctor instructs you on how to treat the condition at home, or when an accident needs immediate attention.
When compiling your kit, consider the following:
Important numbers and other information
Phone number for your current veterinarian: Program it into your cell phone.
Phone number for the closest emergency clinic: Especially for evenings and weekends when your regular veterinary clinic may be closed.
Phone number of the 24-hour Pet Poison Helpline: (855) 764-7661, if your pet accidentally ingests a potential toxin.
A list of current medications your pet is taking and vaccine records: Helpful information for a veterinarian who is not familiar with your pet.
Supplies for transporting an injured pet
A soft muzzle: Pets who are distressed, fearful or in pain may bite, so a muzzle may be needed so you can help them; however, you should never muzzle an animal that is vomiting or having difficulty breathing.
A large towel, blanket or stretcher: For carrying an injured pet. A pillowcase may work as a makeshift stretcher for cats.
A kennel or pet carrier: For confining an injured pet in the car.
For checking vital signs
A rectal thermometer and petroleum jelly for lubrication: Normal temperature for dogs and cats is 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
A list of normal values for pets: In adult dogs, the normal respiratory rate is 10 to 35 breaths per minute and pulse is 60 to 140 beats per minute. For cats, a normal respiratory rate is 20 to 30 breaths per minute and heart rate is 140 to 220 beats per minute.
For possible toxin exposure
Hydrogen peroxide 3 percent (watch expiration date): To induce vomiting in dogs. Always call your veterinarian first to determine if vomiting should or should not be induced (some toxins are caustic and can cause additional damage if vomiting is induced). Your veterinarian can advise you on the proper dose. Do not give to cats, brachycephalic (flat-nosed dogs such as bulldogs and pugs) or unconscious animals.
A teaspoon or tablespoon: To measure the hydrogen peroxide.
An oral dosing syringe, bulb syringe or turkey baster: For administering hydrogen peroxide.
For cuts and bleeding
If there’s uncontrollable bleeding, do not treat cuts at home — go to the nearest veterinary clinic.
Disposable gloves: To help keep your hands and the wound clean.
A clipper: For trimming hair around a wound.
Tweezers: For removing thorns and other foreign objects.
A small bottle of gentle dishwashing liquid: For cleaning dirt and debris out of a wound.
Sterile gauze pads and rolls, non-stick gauze pads: For bandaging the wound.
Scissors: For cutting bandages.
A roll of self-cling bandaging or tape: For keeping the bandage in place. Self-cling bandaging is available in most pet stores; be careful not to wrap the area too tightly.
Styptic powder: To stop bleeding if nails are trimmed too short or if nails are torn.
Other helpful items
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) tablets or liquid with no other ingredients included: For possible allergic reactions. Your veterinarian can tell you the proper dose.
Small bottle of corn syrup: For diabetic pets, in case of low blood sugar.
Artificial tears or sterile eye solution: For flushing eyes.
Instant ice pack: To help reduce swelling; do not place directly against skin — wrap it in a towel if possible.
Penlight: For looking in the mouth or checking pupil response.
Needle-nosed pliers: For removing fish hooks (cut the barbed end off first). In the case of porcupine quills, do not try to remove yourself — bring your pet to the veterinarian where it can be properly sedated for the procedure.
With any luck, your pet will never have an accident that needs your attention at home. But if he or she does, you’ll be grateful that you’re prepared and ready to help. And PLEASE REMEMBER:
Always call your veterinarian before treating a problem at home.
The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.