First aid is as important for pets in a medical emergency as it is for humans. You’ll need to stabilise your pet before taking it to the vet so setting aside a pets’ first aid kit will greatly improve your responsiveness in the event of an emergency. Check your first aid kit every six months to make sure there’s nothing used up, expired or missing.
First Aid Kit for Pets
1. Emergency telephone numbers
Write down on a stiff card the phone numbers for your veterinarian, a 24-hour emergency clinic and animal poison control. Tape the card to the lid of your first aid kit. Carry a copy in your wallet and if your pet is left with a pet sitter, give them a copy too. You could also stick a copy on the fridge with a magnet so family members have access to it too.
2. Blunt-Tipped Scissors
You might have to remove hair near a wound, or cut bandages. Blunt-tipped is always preferable near an injured and frightened animal as it may struggle while you try to assist it and you don’t want to injure it further.
Bandages are staples in any pet first aid kit. They may only be temporary until you can get your injured pet to the vet but they’re essential in providing support and preventing contamination. Ensure bandages are snug enough so that they won’t fall off but not so tight that they compromise blood flow. Ask your vet to teach you how to apply a bandage correctly in the event of an emergency.
4. Sterile Eye Solution
Eye injuries are serious emergencies and should be treated as such. Ask your vet before attempting any treatment at home. A sterile eye solution acts as a wash to clean the eye of any irritant that might find its way into your pet’s eye. Never, ever use human eye drops in your pet’s eyes.
5. Latex or Rubber Gloves
Never attempt to treat an open wound without gloves. It is surprisingly easy to contaminate an animal’s wound so you are protecting yourself and your pet. Keep several pairs as they may rip, or you may need help restraining the animal and will need to provide a second pair to your assistant.
6. Plastic Syringe
Tried giving medicine to a cat? Now you know why syringes coming in handy. They can also be used to give fluids to a dehydrated pet, and to flush and clean out a wound. Keep sealed until you use it, then sterilise afterwards.
If your dog or cat is on medication long-term, remember to keep an eye on expiration dates. You can also stock your kit with basic remedies like styptic powder to stop mild bleeding, and hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (only with the permission of your vet).
When a sharp object, such as a thorn or piece of glass, becomes lodged in a pet’s skin, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to remove with just your fingers. Tweezers are the easier, safer and more sanitary choice.
You may also need tweezers for tick removal. When pulling out a tick, you need to grab it as close to your pet’s skin as possible—a feat that is much simpler with tweezers.
9. Antiseptic Wipes
Using antiseptic wipes or rinses on your pet’s wound will minimise the risk of infection. Wipes are especially convenient for cleaning around the face or in-between the toes. Look out for pet-friendly or eco-friendly wipes that are not too fragrant or chemically-laden.
10. Digital Thermometer
If your pet suddenly becomes ill, measuring their temperature can quickly determine how serious the condition is. This will be especially valuable to your vet when consulting over the phone.
A pet’s temperature is taken via the rectum but be very, very careful how you do this so as not to injure your pet.
For stress-free insertion, apply a petroleum or water-based lubricant to the end of the thermometer. If possible, have someone gently restrain and distract your pet while you lift the tail only as far as necessary to slide only the metal tip of the thermometer into your pet’s rectum. Normal body temperature for dogs and cats is 38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celsius.
Just as they do with children, treats work wonders in distracting your pet from something unpleasant like having his temperature taken. However, do not feed pets who are vomiting, are unable to swallow normally, are having seizures or are mentally impaired.
Being caught short in an emergency is a terrifying thing. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get your kit in order now.