We are all aware of the benefits of having an emergency first aid kit for ourselves and our family, but what about for Fido and Whiskers? In the case of emergency on the road or at home, an emergency kit may buy you critical time until professional veterinary care is available. Fortunately, many of the supplies needed are the same supplies you would use for a human. The additional items are basic and pet-specific, but if you need it in an emergency you will be very happy that you have it on hand.
First aid pet kits can be purchased or you can assemble one yourself. Consider having one in your car and one at home. The kits should include the following:
- A Flashlight (change batteries at regular intervals)
- Cotton balls and swabs*
- Bandage scissors*
- Eye dropper or syringe*
- Sterile gauze pads/rolls and bandage rolls*
- First aid tape (white 1 inch tape tears easily and holds well)*
- Self-cling bandages (sticks to itself not fur)
- Antibacterial ointment*
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Rubbing alcohol
- Water-based lubricating jelly
- Antiseptic wipes or wash* (look for non-stinging)
- A muzzle*
- A leash*
- A splint
- QuikClot (to stop bleeding)
- Sterile latex gloves
- Thick gloves (for protection against pet bites)
- Sterile eye wash*
- Ear Wash
- Nail trimmer*
- Vet Wrap
- Tefla Pads (non-stick dressing for wounds)*
- Vet-prescribed pain relief (Never use Tylenol for pets – can be fatal!)*
- Mineral oil
- Burn cream
- Drinking bowl
- A large bottle of water*
- Self-activating hot pack
- Self-activating ice pack
- Hydrocortisone cream
- A blanket*
- Towels and washcloths*
- Pillowcase to confine cat if needed
- Pet carrier
- Phone numbers of your vet*
- Bach Rescue Remedy (given for shock, distress of panic)
- Snake Bike kit
- Tick remover tool (easier than tweezers, but tweezers will do)
- Prescription medications, if needed
- Copies of veterinary documents, if needed
- A book on pet first aid*
- Homeopathic Remedies for bruising injury (Arnica), insect bites (Apis and Hypericum) and snake bite (Lachesis, Vipera, Crotalus, but best to consult with homeopathic doctor to determine the right remedy for the snake species in your area) and heat stroke (Glononum, Aconitum)
This list can be shortened by focusing on the essentials which I marked with *. If you and your pet spend a fair amount of time outdoors in areas with snakes, also include snake bite kit and remedies. Your vet can advise you in customizing your kit to your pet.
Now that you have a pet-specific first aid kit, you may want to consider a pet first aid course. Below, is a list of organizations that offer pet first aid.
Pets America has partnered with the Emergency Care and Safety Institute to deliver workshops nationwide, not only on pet first aid, but also on how to be a certified instructor of such classes.
The Red Cross emphasizes that practice and preparation are key to survival in an emergency, and accordingly they offer three great classes to do just that for our four-legged friends: Dog First Aid, Cat First Aid, and Cat and Dog First Aid.
Pet Tech is the first international training center dedicated to CPR and first aid for cats and dogs. In addition to offering great courses worldwide, they created a PetSaver app for iPhone and Android. Pet Tech also offers a three-day instructor training for people who want to teach pet first aid courses.
Pet First Aid offers extremely affordable training online. You will miss the camaraderie of taking the class with other pet-lovers and having the instructor immediately on hand, but online courses are less expensive and can be taken anytime, anywhere.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, many of the topics cover what is taught in human first aid classes such as recognizing and responding to shock, wound care, assessing vital signs, heat stroke, treating electrical shock, CPR, choking, snake bites and creating a disaster plan. But with these classes, you will have species-specific instructions on what to do in a wide array of emergencies.