Just like we would prepare an emergency first-aid kit for ourselves and our family, we should do the same for our pets.
No matter how much care and precaution is taken, accidents can still happen and sudden illness can still occur, so it is always best to be prepared for the unexpected.
In fact, in some situations, being prepared can mean the difference between life and death.
Make a list of the basic items you will need.
- Rope or soft length of cloth for use as a muzzle (or a commercial vet muzzle)
- Anti-bacterial cream or ointment
- Non-stick bandages, sterile, non-adherent pads and adhesive tape
- Sterile saline solution for flushing wounds and eyes
- Gauze sponges and bandage material for wrapping wounds
- Syringe or eye-dropper for medicating
- Bandage scissors
- Sterile stretch gauze bandage
- Sterile needle (especially good for removing splinters or tick heads)
- Latex gloves – especially good if you cannot wash your hands thoroughly before handling an open wound.
- Antiseptic iodine solution (e.g. Betadine) for cleaning wounds, especially open wounds that are not infected yet.
- 3% Hydrogen peroxide – to be used on infected wounds. This is a harsher treatment so only use on infected wounds. (check the expiration date regularly and only keep fresh solution in the kit).
Find a waterproof container to hold the first-aid items. This can be a plastic box or case, or even a canvas bag. Choose one that is large enough to hold all the items comfortably. Make sure the container can be securely closed and fastened, to prevent children or pets accessing the contents by accident, and also to prevent items falling out or getting lost if the kit is moved around. However, also make sure that the fastening is one that can be opened quickly, should there be an urgent situation.
Assemble the items inside the container. Make sure that small loose items are grouped together, perhaps in a small zip-locked clear plastic bag, so that you do not have to dig around and fumble around looking for them, during an emergency. Familiarise yourself with the items in the kit and how/where they are packed in the container, so you will be able to act quickly and confidently in an emergency.
Add a piece of paper into the kit with the following information printed clearly:
- Your normal vet’s telephone number
- The emergency on-call vet’s telephone number
- The nearest animal hospital or animal poison control centre
- Any medical conditions your pet may have
- A record of all vaccinations
N.B. You may like to write this information on the container itself in permanent ink, in case the paper gets lost or damaged.
An optional item you may like to include is some activated charcoal, this is often used to treat diarrhoea and flatulence due to intestinal upset. Activated charcoal can also be used to deal with poisoning because it is very effective at absorbing a variety of toxins but always consult a vet or animal poison centre before treating any case of poisoning.
Store the container in an easily accessible place at home. You may want to consider assembling another copy of the kit for your car, especially if you take your pet travelling a lot. Don’t forget to always do research and check ahead for any particular dangers to your pet, if you’re travelling to a strange destination; for example, poisonous snakes, plants or even extreme weather conditions, so that you are forewarned and forearmed.
Check the kit regularly and replace any items that may have expired (e.g, hydrogen peroxide solution) or any items which you may have used up (e.g, bandages, adhesive tape). Make sure also that you know how to use all the items in your kit – if you are not sure, ask your vet for advice and guidance.