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  • Rachel Doran

All You Need to Know About Pet First Aid

In honor of National Pet First Aid Awareness Month.

It’s finally April! The weather is warming up, and we are all starting to look forward to summertime adventures with our pets. With exploration around the corner, we want to remind you that April is also National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. While many of us are prepared with our family’s first aid needs, it can be easy to overlook our four-legged best friends. The good news is that putting together a pet first aid kit couldn’t be easier, and we are here to help! Here’s a handy list of the pet first aid items to have on hand and where to store these life-saving essentials.

The most important thing to have on hand is a surprising one: contact information. Retain the phone number and information for your veterinarian, an after-hour emergency vet clinic, and a poison control hotline. Although we have years of pet care experience, we are not vets. We believe that while preparedness is always a great first step, a call or visit with a professional is the best care you can provide for your pet before and after a pet emergency.

Pet First Aid Kit

The basic kit you have on hand should contain a collection of some very standard first aid supplies such as; absorbent gauze, adhesive medical tape, disposable gloves, tweezers, alcohol wipes, hydrogen peroxide, cotton swabs, eye wash, blunt scissors, antibiotic ointment, and an instant ice pack. It should also contain a few pet specific supplies like; nail clippers, styptic powder, turkey baster or oral syringe, a muzzle, tick twister, towels and dish liquid.

Assemble the items for your kit and get ready to store it somewhere useful. Pro-tip: We recommend a plastic container or toolbox to protect items from moisture.

Your basic kit is great for use at home. It should be stored somewhere you can easily access it during an emergency or pet event. If you are leaving with your pet, however, there will be some additional items to consider. For a brief or extended outing make sure to include the following in addition to your basic kit; water, a collapsible bowl, a leash, a small amount of food, any medications your pet may need, and allergy medication. Please make sure to consult your vet regarding medications and your pet’s proper dosage.

Travel-Friendly Pet First Aid

You should bring your pet first aid kit, or a smaller more travel-friendly version, with you anytime you leave the house with your pet for any adventure longer than a short walk around the block. Whether you’re heading out to the dog park, on a hike, or on a family camping trip, having a pet first aid kit on hand gives you invaluable peace of mind.

Some common injuries or issues you may encounter that can be easily treated with the first aid kit are; a splinter or thorn in paw, a small cut on the paw, bleeding from nail trimming, a torn nail, a tick, debris or dirt in the eye, or getting very dirty while playing outside. Any of these small events can be easily and calmly treated with your kit.

Events that require immediate vet assistance include; if your pet is having an allergic reaction, a large cut or bleeding you can’t stop, a tick you cannot remove, if you need to induce vomiting, if they’ve ingested something dangerous, and any sort of major health-related event such as breathing difficulty or potential bone fracture. These are not events you should attempt to correct without at least having a trained professional on the phone.

We all love our pets and desperately want to keep them safe. Compiling a first aid kit is a great way to help ensure you can protect those adorable little fur balls and keep them healthy. It is not expensive or time-consuming to put together a home kit. If you do not want to put one together yourself, you can purchase prefabricated kits online or in pet stores. But be sure to check the list of supplies and make sure they contain everything we’ve mentioned above, and if any components are missing pick those up individually to add to the kit.

If you travel with your pet often, it may make sense to keep an additional smaller kit in your vehicle so that you do not have to remember to bring it back and forth every time you leave. Also, once you’ve made your kit, be sure to replace items as you use them and check the expiration dates on medications and antiseptics at least once a year; expired supplies are ineffective supplies. Please remember the time to think about pet emergencies and emergency supplies is BEFORE an emergency occurs. If your pup cuts their foot and you don’t have the supplies on hand, you will not have time to run to the store. The best offense is always a good defense.

We hope you all have a happy April and enjoy some summertime fun! While we also hope you never have to use your DIY pet first aid kit, we are happy to know that you are prepared! Your pets and your future self will thank you.

P.S. If you’re looking for additional information on being prepared, check out Red Cross’ Pet First Aid Course and App. These resources are full of helpful information that will prepare you for any pet first aid issue.

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