As a friend explained how she was busy doing deep spring cleaning, I tried to remember how long it had been since I had done any “deep cleaning,” so I put it on my priority To-Do list. Why I chose the linen closet in the bathroom as a starter project, I don’t know, but I enthusiastically dug in. There on the top shelf was a box marked First Aid Kit (for humans), and I was reminded that I had not updated our Pet First Aid Kits for quite a while.

When an animal is injured, exposed to a poison, or experiences an unexpected medical emergency, it is important to have a well-stocked pet first aid kit. First aid is not a replacement for emergency vet care, but being prepared for pet emergencies is important. You can buy a pet first-aid kit from a pet supply store or catalog, but most of them are overpriced and understocked…..we suggest assembling your own kit (actually we suggest two kits…one for the home and one for the car)…which should include:

  • Pet first-aid book
  • Phone numbers of your vet, the nearest emergency veterinary clinic, and a hotline such as the ASPCA center at 1-800-426-4435.
  • Copies of your pets medical records including shot record, and a current photo of your pet (in case he gets lost)…Put these in a waterproof container or bag.
  • Nylon leash
  • Self-cling, stretch bandages that stick to itself, but not fur.
  • Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting….even the friendliest dog can bite if in pain or fear. (Don’t use a muzzle if the dog is choking, coughing, vomiting or having breathing difficulty) An emergency muzzle can be made with gauze, strip of cloth, or even a leash…make a loop with a single knot at the top, and tighten it over the snout. ‘Then make a second loop with the knot at the bottom and tighten it. Pull the ends of the gauze around and behind the head and tie it securely.
  • Absorbent gauze pads or gauze sponges, roll of strip gauze, and sterile non-stick gauze pads (for bandages)
  • Adhesive tape to use as the final cover on a bandage.
  • Antibiotic ointment for topical treatment of minor wounds.
  • Antiseptic such as Betadine to clean a wound, and Q tip applicators
  • Blanket (a foil emergency blanket works well and takes up little space) If space is available, a regular blanket is helpful for warmth or for carrying a pet hammock style.
  • Canned dog food or baby food
  • Eye wash or sterile water
  • Emergency ice pack
  • Flashlight
  • Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting…but contact a vet or poison-control expert prior to using this
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Popsicle sticks…for stabilizing an injury with a splint
  • Rectal thermometer – a dog’s temp should be between 100 and 103 degrees.
  • Scissors (with blunt ends) and tweezers0
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Wound cleaning solution such as Nolvasan solution

Hopefully you will never need to use the items in your pet first aid kit, but it will certainly be valuable in the event of a medical emergency. If you have an iPhone, the American Red Cross pet First Aid app puts veterinary advice for everyday emergencies in the palm of your hand…with videos, and simple step-by step advice, it’s never been easier to know pet First Aid. You should also make sure that you have important phone numbers for your pet stored in your phone. You never know when they will come in handy….and in case you are wondering, I never did get into “deep cleaning” and as I finished putting together a couple pet first aid kits, I thought about how long it had been, but decided that a long leisurely walk with my dog sounded more inviting.