One of the most important things you should do as a responsible pet owner is to prepare a pet first aid kit and have it easily accessible in the home or in the car, if you take your pet travelling with you a lot.
Many pet stores now carry commercial versions but you can easily make one up yourself, by collecting the necessary items and storing them together in a waterproof container.
Make sure the container can be opened and closed easily and is large enough to hold all the necessary items comfortably.
A Basic Pet First Aid Kit
Here are some items which should be included in a basic first aid kit for pets:
- Board or blanket for use as a stretcher
- Rope or soft length of cloth for use as a muzzle (or a commercial vet muzzle)
- Non-stick bandages and adhesive tape
- Gauze sponges and bandage material for wrapping wounds
- Sterile saline solution for flushing wounds and eyes
- Syringe or eye-dropper for medicating
- 3% Hydrogen peroxide – to be used on infected wounds; however always check the expiration date regularly and only keep fresh solution in the kit.
- Betadine solution – this is a type of antiseptic iodine medicine for cleaning wounds. It is better to use this firston open wounds that are not infected yet, rather than hydrogen peroxide which is much harsher.
- Towels or cloth to stem bleeding
- Anti-bacterial cream or ointment
- Rubbing alcohol
- Ear syringe
- White petroleum jelly (Vaseline or similar)
- Sterile, non-adherent pads
- Sterile stretch gauze bandage — three inches by four yards
- Bandage scissors
- Sterile needle (especially good for removing splinters or tick heads)
- Custom splints
- Tweezers – a flat, slanted tip is preferable to the slanted version
- Ziplock bags
- Latex gloves – this is especially useful if you are in a situation where you cannot wash your hands thoroughly before handling an open wound.
- A list of emergency phone numbers, such as your normal vet plus the nearest emergency animal hospital. You might like to write this on the container itself, in permanent ink, in case a piece of paper gets lost.
- Information regarding any medical conditions your pet may have, plus a record of all vaccinations.
In addition, it can be a good idea to include some activated charcoal, which can be purchased from any health food store – this is often used to treat diarrhoea and flatulence due to intestinal upset and can also be used to deal with poisoning – it is very effective at absorbing a variety of toxins. However, remember that any poisoning should only be treated in conjunction with advice from a vet or animal poison centre.
If you are travelling with your pet to a strange location, check ahead for any particular dangers such as poisonous plants, snakes or extreme weather conditions – so that you are aware of any extra things to prepare.
Check the kit regularly to ensure that all items are up-to-date and that you have replaced anything you may have used up. Make sure that you are familiar with all the contents of the kit and that you know what they are for and how to use them, BEFORE an emergency occurs.
Many situations require you to act fast and correctly, to prevent further injury, infection or even death and knowing how to use the contents of the kit will help you remain calmer in the stress of an emergency.
If you feel unsure, getting hold of a few animal first aid guides may help you feel more confident. Alternatively, arrange a time with your vet or veterinary nurse to talk you through emergency first aid procedures, so you will have an idea of what to do in the case of an accident, injury, poisoning or other emergency.