Emergencies always seem to occur when you least expect them and more often than not, you are never prepared enough. Everyone should have a basic understanding of pet first aid and should have a pet specific first aid kit available in the case of a pet emergency. The American Red Cross has named April as Pet First Aid Awareness Month in an effort to help owners prepare and become more comfortable in the case of a pet emergency while in route to an emergency veterinary hospital.
There are many pre-made pet specific first aid kits available to purchase that vary in size and purchase price. Pet first aid kits are also easily made and personalized to you and your pet’s lifestyle. Whether you buy a first aid kit or make it yourself, your kit should be kept readily available at your home and travel with your pet on trips or even to visit friends.
All first aid kits should be contained in a water-proof container that is easily latched closed. Important information should also be kept within the kit that includes personal contact information (you and your pet’s names, addresses, phone numbers, allergies, current medications, vaccine records); veterinary contact information (names, addresses, phone numbers); multiple emergency veterinary contact information (names, addresses, phone numbers); and the National Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435). Your kit should also include: gauze sponges, gauze roll, vet wrap, adhesive tape, non-stick sterile pads, cotton balls and swabs, fresh 3% hydrogen peroxide, wound disinfectant (betadine or nolvasan), cold and hot packs, disposable gloves, scissors with a blunt end, tweezers, OTC antibiotic ointment, liquid dishwashing detergent, towels of various sizes, small flashlight with extra batteries, oral syringe, alcohol wipes, styptic powder, saline eye solution, artificial tear gel, splint material, magnifying glass, clippers or safety razor, slip leash, cloth muzzle, safety pins, tongue depressors, diphenhydramine (always get approval and dosage from your veterinarian), Karo syrup, plastic card (like an old credit card), petroleum jelly, needle nose pliers, pet nail clippers and file, rectal thermometer, hydrocortisone cream, and bitter apple or other anti-licking product.
Being prepared for a potential emergency is always easier than the alternative. Emergency first aid may make the difference for your pet in the time it takes to seek professional veterinary care. There are also many pet first aid books available that would be worthwhile purchasing and becoming familiar with in the event you need to actually use your pet first aid kit. Also remember to routinely check the kit for expired products and replace as needed.