No pet parent wants to imagine their pet getting hurt, but the unfortunate reality of life is that accidents do happen. For the most part, many pet injuries can be treated at home, provided you have the tools and knowledge to get the job done.
Every pet owner should have a first aid kit for their pet. Pet injuries can occur at any time, and they often come without warning. To ensure you and your pet are prepared for any medical emergency situation, here is our list of top 10 items to include in your pet’s first aid kit.
A thermometer is an essential tool for any pet first aid kit. Most animal thermometers must be inserted rectally, which means you will want to keep some sort of lubricant in your pet first aid kit as well.
Your dog’s internal temperature is a reliable indicator of a more significant issue, and a rectal thermometer is one of the quickest ways to determine if there is a need for veterinary action. When choosing a rectal thermometer, go with a digital option as they are much more accurate and far easier to read.
Be sure you understand how to operate your personal pet thermometer as leaving it in too long, or preemptively pulling it out could give you a false reading. The safe range for internal temperature varies depending on the species, so make sure you know what the “safe range” is for your pet’s temperature.
Whether your pet is on a daily dose of a medication, or whether they are in perfect health, medication is a must for any pet first aid kit. Certain medications are appropriate for animals like antihistamines and anti-inflammatories.
Typically antihistamines are used to treat an immediate allergic reaction, whereas anti-inflammatories are used to reduce swelling. Medications like these should be used sparingly and only as recommended by your Vet.
Never give your pet any medication if you weren’t directed to do so but have these emergency supplies on hand in case your veterinarian gives you the go-ahead. Medicine is especially essential for pets who have a pre-existing condition or a history with a particular allergen. For more information about how medication can be used for an at-home emergency, consult your Veterinarian about what you can and cannot give your pet.
Light is an absolute necessity when attempting to perform any first aid procedure from home. Regardless of the time of day, your eyes need extra light to ensure you can see what you’re doing.
Due to the density of fur, it is hard to see what is happening on the surface of the skin without a high powered source of light. A flashlight helps you to get a better view of the area you are working on. Additionally, more light means fewer mistakes as your eyes can better see the task at hand.
Many pet owners opt to substitute a flashlight for a wearable headlamp. A headlamp is an excellent addition to any pet first aid kit as it allows you to have a source of light without needing to use one of your hands. Typically you will need both hands when dealing with an in-home pet first aid scenario, and a headlamp allows you to have a high-powered, and hands-free, source of light.
Antimicrobial Wound and Skin Cleanser
One of the first steps in treating any medical issue from home is cleaning the affected area. Your pet has sensitive skin and therefore requires a different kind of cleaning and sanitizing.
For cleaning and sanitization, most vets recommend Vetericyn Plus(r) Wound and Skin care. This can be purchased at most pet and farm stores and are usually found in small bottles with easy squeeze tips for precise application.
There are many different kinds of bandages that you can use for pet first aid. Most commonly, pet bandages consist of a sterile gauze pad placed on the wound with adhesive tape wrapped around the area. While there are pet-specific bandages that are widely available for purchase, often a piece of gauze and tape will do just fine.
If you do need to bandage a pet’s wound at home, you should probably plan a trip to the Vet. Any time there is enough blood to warrant a bandage, there should be an equal amount of care and concern for follow up care by a trained professional.
Your veterinarian can advise you on how frequently to change the bandage and the proper dressings for the most optimal healing environment.
The right tools are a crucial piece of any pet first aid kit, and tweezers/scissors are the most commonly needed tools for pet first aid. Most in-home first aid for pets requires minor extraction, and the combination of tweezers and scissors is the perfect pairing for getting the job done.
When using tweezers or scissors, you should always sterilize them first using a sterilizing wipe like an alcohol-based pad. Do not assume that the tools are still sterile from the last time you used them. Even if you put them away clean, resterilize before making contact with your pet.
It should be noted that you should never extract anything that you aren’t certain needs to be extracted. Small items like spurs, thorns, and stingers are normally no problem for most pet owners, but if you are not confident, then you should contact your Vet.
When treating a medical issue at home, keeping things sanitary is important. Gloves, specifically latex or rubber, will help keep you and your pet infection-free.
Gloves allow you as a pet owner to spring into action without having to worry about thoroughly washing your hands.
Gloves are also useful in keeping your hands from slipping. Often when dealing with an in-home first aid scenario, the area you are working on is small, and well-executed first aid requires a steady hand. Gloves keep any sweat you may experience trapped inside the glove, allowing you to keep a firm grip on whatever tool you may be using. It’s also important to use disposable one-time gloves to avoid contamination.
From contact cards to your pet’s medical history, paperwork should be kept with your pet’s first aid kit. While you may have a firm grasp on your animal’s medical history, it is important to be able to communicate definitive and specific medical information should it be required.
For example, if you were on vacation with your pet and needed to take them to a Vet in case of emergency, you would want to be able to share any pertinent details about your pet’s medical history. While this is not a likely scenario, there are plenty of instances where your local Vet may not be able to see your pet, forcing you to go to an animal hospital or other treatment facility.
Medical history and other paperwork should be kept in a sealed, waterproof container to keep it safe from the elements. While paperwork is not a standard first aid kit essential for humans, it is a must for your pet-specific first aid kit.
A current picture is also a good idea and could be very useful if your pet gets lost or stolen.
When it comes to treating a medical issue for your pet, keeping them calm is vital. For most animals, food is associated with comfort and care, which is why treats are such an important piece of a good pet first aid kit.
Treats often go overlooked as a first aid kit essential as they don’t serve any direct medical purpose. However, treats are a great way to keep your pet calm and relaxed while giving them the medical attention they need.
Treats should only be given in medical situations where there is no risk of making a circumstance worse. For example, if your pet is having digestive issues, do not give them treats! However, if your pet was good while you removed a splinter from their paw, or bandaged a cut, a treat is an excellent post-op reward! Also having some of their regular food is a good idea if you must leave home quickly.
Cuts are one of the top reasons pet owners turn to their pet-specific first aid kit. For minor cuts and abrasions, cleanliness is an essential part of proper treatment. An antimicrobial solution like not only cleans a wound, it helps keep the wound clean moving forward.
Flushing out a cut or scrape with a water-based solution is an important part of cleaning an open wound, but it is not enough. Any open wound on your pet is a potential site for infections due to microbial growth from bacteria. An antimicrobial spray helps to treat the wound in a way that prevents infection.
Additionally, Vetericyn Plus is safe for pets of all kinds. From dogs and cats to birds and household rodents, an antimicrobial solution from Vetericyn is the perfect topical solution to keep on hand for your pet’s first aid needs.
Beyond the kit
If you are ever uncertain about a medical emergency situation, or if you feel uncomfortable performing a certain task, it is important to call a medical professional. When it comes to your pet’s long term health and safety, it is better to follow your instincts and seek professional guidance than it is to act on impulse.
The very best tool to keep in your pet first aid kit is common sense to avoid irrational action that could make a problem worse. We know you have a deep desire to keep your pet healthy and safe, and with these items in your pet first aid kit, you will put yourself in the best possible position to deal with any at-home medical issue appropriately.