As pet owners, we often consider pets a part of the family. Just like our kids, accidents and injuries happen to even the sweetest of our furry friends. Whether your dog zoomies a little too hard and bumps into something or your cat didn’t land on its feet and got injured, a pet first aid kit is a great resource to have on hand. Read on to learn more about first aid kits for pets, what goes into them, the cost, and when to use them.
Pet first aid kits are important tools for maintaining animal health. Like human aid kits, they contain a collection of medical items. However, they also include pet-specific products like leashes or muzzles. These kits are stored in the car and in your home for immediate access from anywhere. They are not a replacement for emergency clinic visits in instances of extreme injury but are useful for minor issues.
Your dog or cat can’t provide itself with medical care when they get injured or sick. Whether you want to buy a premade pet emergency kit or put one together yourself, having one on hand will prepare you for whatever life throws at your four-legged friend. Luckily, you may already have much of what you need for your cat or dog’s first aid kit in your medicine cabinets. Here’s what to include:
- Gauze pads, a gauze roll, adhesive tape. Avoid adhesive bandages; they can irritate your pet’s skin and potentially tug on their fur.
- Phone numbers for your vet and the Animal Poison Control Center.
- Animal-safe topical antiseptics like witch hazel, turmeric, or aloe vera. Avoid hydrogen peroxide unless it is used to induce vomiting.
- Eye droppers to help flush wounds in a sanitary manner
- Eye drops
- Disposable applicators like cotton balls or swabs
- Dog-safe antihistamines
- Tweezers or a tick remover
- Disposable cold packs
- A leash
- A muzzle
- Bottled water and a collapsible bowl
- A blanket
- A splint (or materials to make one)
- Documentation such as medical records, ownership papers, and licenses
- Charcoal or milk of magnesia to absorb any ingested poisons
- An animal first-aid guide, like this one from the American Veterinary Medical Association
If you want to skip the DIY project, there are plenty of animal first aid kit options available for purchase. Basic pet first aid kits are relatively inexpensive, but the more comprehensive options can cost several hundred dollars. You should base what you need on the kind of pet you have and their past medical history.
As pet owners, it’s important to understand when it is appropriate to perform first aid and when to bring your pet to the emergency clinic. Whether you are at home or out in the wilderness, you can feel comfortable reaching for the kit in instances of:
- Accidental ingestion of toxins (learn more about what foods your dog shouldn’t eat here)
- Minor scrapes and cuts
- Minor burns
- Removal of stingers and ticks
- Minor aches and pains
- Bites from other animals
- Heat stroke
- Fractures or breaks (before seeking medical attention)
- As-directed to supplement emergency medical care from your veterinarian
Again, first aid kits are not a replacement for major emergency care. Signs that your furry friend needs professional aid right away include constant whimpering and shaking, a cut that won’t stop bleeding, refusing to eat, lethargic behavior, among many other things.
Getting emergency care is no small deal or fee that is covered by a pet first aid kit. And unlike these kits, vet visits can really cost a lot. However, pet insurance is a great add on for any major Fido health crisis that can mitigate some of the medical expenses. You won’t have to worry about what happens if you can’t pay a vet bill because pet insurance can help cover emergency visits to the animal hospital when your furry friend breaks their bone, eats something poisonous, bites their tail a little too hard, or so on. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
No one wants to be in a situation where Garfield or Fido need a visit to the vet. As a pet parent, preparedness is key for your animal’s health. Keeping a first aid kit on hand to help your animal when accidents happen will help you give them the support and care they need.