Most people keep a first aid kit in the house. In case of emergency, it’s always good to know where you can find medical supplies like styptic powder (to stem bleeding), antiseptics, bandages, ipecac (to induce vomiting after a poisoning), and even epi-pens for severe allergic reactions. It is necessary to have these items on hand because accidents are bound to happen and a decent first aid kit can help you get a handle on the situation before first responders arrive (or you make your way to the emergency room). And in many cases, the proper supplies may make emergency services unnecessary. However, while most of us have first aid kits in the house to treat injuries and accidents that befall ourselves or our families, we don’t even think to provide for these needs should unfortunate happen to our beloved pets.
While some pets are more susceptible to illness and injury, such as older pets, those that are indoor/outdoor animals, or ones that are of smaller stature, you should have an animal first aid kit for any pet. Although your species or breed may have specific needs, there are a few generic items that should be included, and many of them mimic what you have in your own first aid kit. Your list of basic supplies should include antiseptics (such as antibiotic ointment, alcohol, and/or iodine) to clean any wounds and prevent infection as soon as possible. You should also include a number of bandages (not Band-Aids) of the gauze variety (make sure there is enough to cover any area of your pet’s body without having to tape it to fur or skin (for this reason, a roll of gauze is usually a good idea). There should also be a couple of items to treat ailments, such as styptic powder, saline solution (to flush eyes), and hydrogen peroxide (this may force your pet to vomit, but you should only use it at the discretion of your veterinarian).
You will also need some hardware on hand to keep your pet from causing themselves further injury (or stopping you from tending to them). A muzzle may be required for some pets, especially if they are aggressive in nature (which could lead them to lash out when in pain). You could also consider the inclusion of an Elizabethan collar (the cone-shaped ones they wear when spayed/neutered) to keep them from licking or gnawing a wound, bug bite, or other irritation. It also couldn’t hurt to have towels and absorbent pads handy (in case they are discharging fluids and need to be taken to the emergency vet), scissors for cutting gauze and tape, tweezers for splinters, and a rectal thermometer.
Of course, there are a number of other items you may want to include aside from these generic few. For example, it’s a good idea to have a guide to common ailments (and their symptoms) pertaining to your particular species of animal, as well as a basic guide to animal first aid. You should also have emergency contact information written down (for your vet and the local 24-hour clinic) in case someone else is caring for your pet. For a list of other items you may want to add, or to purchase a pre-packaged first aid kit, check out the ASPCA website. After all, you don’t want to find yourself unprepared at a time when your pet is depending on you for care.
Kyle Martin writes for Helpdesk where you can find all the best in help desk software solutions on the market today.
Want an online course which walks you through what to do in an emergency with your pet? Then take a look at Dr Katherine van Ekert Onay’s guide to ‘First Aid for Your Pets‘.