The 7 Pet First Aid Kit Essentials and Other First Aid Tips for Pet Owners
There comes a time in every pet owner’s life when their pet gets hurt. You can take steps to ensure that when that time comes, you are prepared to deal with an emergency medical situation.
Knowing some basic first aid information and being prepared for emergencies can help you avoid the feelings of panic that may accompany these situations.
First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until you can get them veterinary care. In case of an emergency, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency hospital so they can be ready when you arrive.
Here’s what you need to do to be prepared to provide first aid to your pet.
Create a Pet First Aid Kit
Keep a kit of basic first aid supplies for the pets in your household. Many items in a family first aid kit can be used for pets, too. Your veterinarian may recommend additional items for your kit based on your pet’s medical condition.
Here are 7 essential pet first aid kit items:
- Gauze roll for wrapping wounds or muzzling an injured animal
- Nonstick bandages or strips of clean cloth to control bleeding or protect wounds & adhesive tape for securing bandages
- Scissors with blunt ends for safely cutting bandage materials
- Tweezers to remove small foreign objects
- Activated charcoal or Milk of Magnesia to absorb poison (*Use only if instructed to do so by your veterinarian or a poison control center.)
- 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (*Always contact your veterinarian or poison control center before inducing vomiting. Do not give more than one dose unless otherwise instructed by your veterinarian. Do not use hydrogen peroxide on wounds.)
- Saline solution for cleansing wounds or flushing eyes (Saline solution sold for use with contact lenses works well for most purposes.)
Other first aid kit items to consider:
- Disposable gloves to protect your hands
- Clean towels for restraining cats, cleaning, or padding
- Eye dropper (or large syringe without needle) to give oral treatments or flush wounds
- Sterile lubricating jelly to protect wounds/eyes
- Small flashlight for examining eyes, wounds, etc.
- Digital thermometer to take your pet’s temperature
- Muzzle to prevent bites (DO NOT muzzle your pet if they are vomiting.)
- Spare leash and collar
- Important phone numbers (veterinarian, emergency hospital, poison control, animal control, nonemergency police)
- A copy of your pet’s medical record, including any medications your pet is receiving
For your safety
An injury may not only cause your pet pain, but also fear and confusion. These things can make even the gentlest of pets unpredictable or even dangerous. To protect you both:
- Avoid any attempt to hug an injured pet.
- Keep your face away from your pet’s mouth.
- Apply a muzzle if your pet threatens to bite. (Never place a muzzle on a pet that is vomiting.)
- Whenever possible, ask other people to help you move your pet.
Learn About Common Medical Situations & How To React
It’s important to know how to handle the most common medical emergencies appropriately. Here are a few examples:
Bleeding can be external bleeding or internal. You can work to control external bleeding by using clean gauze and applying pressure on the wound. It’s best to apply pressure for at least 3 minutes to help the clotting process. Excessive bleeding on a limb may require the use of a tourniquet.
Internal bleeding symptoms include bleeding from the nose, mouth, and urine. It’s important to keep your pet warm and rush them to the hospital if internal bleeding is suspected.
Pets who are left in a car on hot days are at high risk of developing heatstroke. Signs of heatstroke include:
- Excessive Drooling
- Sudden Collapse
If you suspect that your pet is suffering from heatstroke, move them to a shaded and cool area. Place cool wet towels on their head and neck, but don’t cover their mouth or eyes.
If possible, use a hose to pour cool water over their body to help them cool down. Then immediately take them to the nearest veterinary hospital.
If your pet has a seizure, move them away from any furniture or walls that they could accidentally strike. Do not try to restrain them. If possible, time the length of the seizure – this is important information that your veterinarian will want.
After, approach your pet with caution. Seizures can cause pets to become very disoriented and they may bite out of fear.
(Additional information on common pet emergencies can be found on the American Veterinary Medical Association website.)
**Disclaimer: Pet first aid should never be a substitute for proper veterinary care. Once you have administered first aid, be sure to follow up with immediate veterinary care.
Prepare A Confined Area For Transportation
Once a pet is ready to transport to a veterinary hospital, it’s important to ensure that they are in a confined space so that they don’t further injure themselves. A collapsible crate is an excellent choice – easy to store and easy to set up quickly in case of an emergency.
BC Wildfires and Pet Safety – Emergency Preparedness
The recent BC wildfires have highlighted the importance of being prepared in case of an emergency. Evacuations due to wildfires often happen on short notice and require you to flee quickly to keep your family safe. Just as you should have a go-bag prepared for this type of emergency for yourself and your family, you should have your pet first aid and emergency supplies up to date and stored in a portable bag in an easily accessible location where you can grab them and go.
The BC SPCA has a great emergency preparedness checklist you can check out.
Final Thoughts on Pet First Aid
If your pet is facing an emergency and you can do so, you should contact a veterinary hospital to seek expert advice.
In life-threatening situations, do what you can with your pet first aid kit and then bring your pet in for emergency care.
We hope you never need an emergency vet, but if you do, we are open 24/7, walk-ins welcome. We are VECCS Level 1 certified and capable of handling even the most critical, life-threatening emergencies and trauma, with specialists on call to handle any medical issue.
Find out more about when to visit the emergency room and how to contact us on our emergencies page.
For more information about pet first aid, consider some of these resources: