Pet First Aid: What Supplies Do You Need?

Posted on: 26 March 2015


What would you do if your cat came home drooling or foaming at the mouth? What about if your dog started to choke on table scraps? Or if your rabbit starts to act extremely lethargic in warm weather?

Welcome to the American Red Cross's Pet First Aid Awareness Month. Set every year for April, it's a great time to learn more about emergency care for your pet and review how you'd act in many common pet first aid situations.

Many pet care sources have information about caring for your pet in these situations and when you need to follow up with care from a veterinarian. But you won't be as successful in your first aid endeavors if you don't have the right supplies on hand. Here's how to put together a pet first aid kit.

What You'll Need

First of all, don't raid your human first aid kit to get the supplies for your pet. You need both, because there are some medications and other items you don't want to give your pet (or your kids). Also, common sense dictates that you don't want to use the same rectal thermometer on pets and people, no matter how well you disinfect it between uses.

Here's what to have on hand:

  • Large gauze pads and first-aid tape. Adhesive bandages don't work on fur, so you'll usually have to wrap any injuries on legs.
  • Blunt-tipped scissors. Cut away fur over injuries, cut any materials wrapped around your pet and more.
  • Pet-safe medications: You'll want to talk to your vet on this so you don't get a product unsafe for pets. Even between cats and dogs, some medications are fine for one and harmful for the other. Your vet may give you a prescription and/or dosages for common over-the-counter products. Have something on hand for allergies, diarrhea and pain relief.
  • Any medications your pet takes on a regular basis, like extra insulin for a diabetic cat.
  • Tweezers. Remove splinters.
  • Antiseptic spray. A spray is usually easier to use for pets.
  • Antibiotic ointment. The kind in a tube is easier to apply.
  • Instant ice pack.
  • Sealed bottles of sterile saline and hydrogen peroxide. The saline will clean wounds, as can the hydrogen peroxide -- though, the latter is mostly to induce vomiting in an emergency.
  • Rectal thermometer. Also include instructions for use and average temperature range for your pet.
  • Plastic syringe.
  • Pair of disposable gloves. Look for ones without latex just in case you or your pet has an allergy.

You may also want to keep a blanket or large towel with the other supplies. It can help you carry the animal if necessary, and it serves as a great place to position your pet while you perform first aid.

Your veterinarian may recommend other products to keep on hand, depending on what kind of pet you have.

Where To Keep Supplies

Your first-aid kit must actually be a kit, put together and stored in an easy-to-access location. Too many pet owners think, "Well, I have all these things around my house," and don't buy specific supplies for a kit. But in an emergency, trying to find a pair of blunt-nosed scissors or some gloves may take valuable time that you need to treat your pet.

Get a plastic box for everything and put it in a location in a bathroom or bedroom where it can be easily accessed by all members of the family, including elementary-aged kids. A clear box helps you see what's inside.

Finally, don't forget to include at the top of the box a list of the supplies inside, your vet's contact information, the animal poison control phone number and a list of any medical problems or medications your pet has. Doing this will help you be ready to perform any necessary first aid on your pet, any time you need to.

For more information, contact My Pet's Vet Clinic or a similar location.