Pet First-Aid

You’re probably prepared to handle everyday emergencies that come up with your family and children, but what about your pets? The American Red Cross has named April as National Pet First Aid Awareness month, and stresses that everyone who shares a home with a dog should have a basic first-aid kit on hand.

Dogs, like humans, can become injured or get illnesses that need treatment. You know your dog, and are in the best position to observe behavior and health changes that may signal an emergency. If you notice unusual crying or whining; coughing; bleeding; dizziness; confusion; vomiting; diarrhea; increased urination; excessive drooling; uncontrollable panting; or difficult breathing; consult your veterinarian.

However, because many minor pet injuries can be treated with common sense and basic first-aid, having supplies on hand is advised , and although there are many commercial pet first aid kits on the market, it is better to put together your own kit, designed for your specific dog.

Get a water-resistant container that opens and closes easily, yet securely. It should be big enough to hold all the necessary items, and for added protection, put products in seal-able plastic bags inside the box.

Items to include in your kit are:

  • A good pet first aid book . The American Red Cross has an excellent spiral bound book , Dog First Aid, which has a section in the back where you can record phone numbers of your veterinarian, a poison control center, and other important emergency information. It’s a bit spendy, but Amazon usually has copies available for about $15.00.
  • A pair of heavy gloves to prevent getting bitten
  • A muzzle or strips of cotton to use as a muzzle if needed.
  • A digital rectal thermometer (your dog’s temperature should between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees)
  • Bandage materials (do not use human adhesive bandages such as Band-Aids on pets). Include sterile gauze pads and rolls, and tape for securing wraps or bandages, cotton balls, and swabs.
  • An ordinary ruler can be used if a splint is needed.
  • Towels and sanitary wipes for cleaning wounds and yourself
  • A compact thermal blanket. If you do not have a thermal blanket, be sure to have a regular blanket available.
  • Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting if you suspect your dog has been poisoned. Contact your vet or poison control center BEFORE inducing vomiting or treating an animal for poison. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used for cleaning minor wounds.
  • Antibiotic ointment for minor scrapes or cuts
  • Betadine (iodine)
  • Antiseptic lotion or spray.
  • Eye wipes, saline solution to flush eyes, and sterile eye ointment.
  • Ear wipes and ear-cleaning solution
  • Plastic eye dropper or large syringe without a needle to give oral treatments or flush wounds;
  • Small scissors,
  • Nail clippers
  • Tweezers.
  • Spare leash to transport your pet if he is capable of walking without further injury.

Prevention is always the best solution, so pet proof your home and make sure medications, cleaners, electrical cables, and other dangerous items are out of reach. If an accident does happen, it is important for you to keep your cool so that you can properly care for your pet. When thinking of pet first aid, the two most important words are “be prepared.”