First Aid Kit for Your Pet

First Aid Kit for Your Pet

By Dr. Catherine Reiss

One of the best ways to be prepared for your pet’s emergency is to have a basic first aid kit available. It could be a backpack or a fancy tackle box—both are great projects for kids to decorate!

Here is my list of “must have” items:

Hydrogen peroxide: Use this to induce vomiting in dogs (sorry, it’s not so easy in cats, but they also tend to be a bit smarter about what they get into). Call for dosing, as it is important not to give too much, and only with certain toxins. You can also call the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 for any toxin exposure.

Benadryl: Be sure to call a vet for the correct dosing. However, with allergic reactions, giving this medication early can help decrease the reaction. All pets should be evaluated by their vet even after given Benadryl.

Thermometer: Normal rectal temperature for the dog and cat is between 100.5 and 102.5.

Eye flush: This is just the plain saline solution you can buy at any pharmacy.

List of emergency numbers: This list should include our primary vet, their recommendations for emergency care, directions to each doctor on the list, telephone number for the poison control line, your county animal control officer, and friends/neighbors who could help with transport, if needed.

Honey or karo syrup: Keep this for use with young or diabetic pets, in case of collapse from low blood sugar.

Transport device: Leash for dogs, carrier for cats

Quick Stop: Use this or other coagulation agent to stop bleeding from broken nails—do NOT apply to other bleeding sites. This material can be purchased at any pet store.

Bandage material: 4×4 gauze squares in sterile packages, rolled cotton bandage to hold the gauze in place, and vet wrap (called “hurt free wrap” at pharmacies) to be applied over the gauze and cotton to apply a mild pressure wrap. Be aware to not apply too tightly.

Next, I think it is also important to know what NOT to do at home without consulting a veterinarian. Do not:

  • Apply ointments to wounds.
  • Hose wounds or wash bloody/dirty pets, as it can worsen infection and cause serious hypothermia.
  • And please, do not give human pain medication! Most human medications are not safe for your pets, and they interfere with the appropriate medications that we need to give.

When trying to transport an injured or scared pet, it is important to think about your own safety as well. Painful and fearful animals can react in ways they normally would not, making it is easy for you to get bitten or scratched. You can use a large towel or comforter to gently scoop up a cat or small dog. Wrapping a leash around a dog’s mouth in a gentle way to prevent them from opening it can serve as a temporary muzzle, but be sure to remove it quickly to allow panting.

Remember, the best way to help your pet is to get to a veterinarian! There is only so much that can be done at home, and your vet is the best person to evaluate the situation and determine treatment. Prompt care is key!

Understand emergencies are always unexpected and scary for everyone involved. Having a plan and supplies ready at home can help you through a tough situation. It can also give your pet the best chance of a speedy recovery.


Dr. Catherine Reiss practices at Valley Veterinary Emergency & Referral Center, 210 Costello Drive in Winchester.