First-Aid Kit For Your Pet

There is no 911 for pets. It would be great if, when your dog or cat is injured or suddenly becomes violently ill, you could just pick up the phone, and have a vet on your doorstep in a matter of minutes to provide wound care, or administer petmeds. In the absence of this lifesaving service, it is up to you to provide your pet with emergency care until you can get him to the vet’s office.  Your quick action may mean the difference between life and death for your beloved pet. To be ready for those emergencies, you need a pet first-aid kit.

Hurt Paw

Much like a human first-aid kit, a first-aid kit for pets will contain some obvious item choices such as hydrogen peroxide and cotton swabs for cleaning wounds, topical antibiotic ointment for preventing infection, and tweezers for removing stingers and splinters. But you also need a few items that are used more often for pets than people. Here are a few suggestions.

Styptic Powder

Men may keep a styptic pencil handy for those occasional shaving mishaps, but powder is more easily applied if, for example, your pet steps on something and cuts a pad. Styptic powder is an antihemorrhagic or clotting agent, meaning it helps to quickly stop bleeding. It also comes in very handy if you accidentally clip your pet’s nails too close, and cut the quick. Styptic powder can be found in many pet supply stores and Web sites, and in drug stores. Keep it in a cool, dry place, and check it on a regular basis to ensure it hasn’t hardened, rendering it useless.

Tick Removal Tool

Ticks are nasty little parasites. Once a tick attaches itself to its host, it secretes a sort of “cement” that makes it extremely difficult to simply pull the tick off. And if you do just pull it off, you may leave the feeding apparatus buried under the skin where it can become infected, creating an even nastier problem for your pet. The Biological Sciences Department at Ohio State University performed a study of several tick-removal procedures.

They found none of the typical home remedies—burning the tick with a match, smothering it with petroleum jelly, dousing it with nail polish remover, etc.—forced the tick to voluntarily detach itself. Tweezers can work, if you can get the edges close enough to the skin to fully remove the tick, and some ticks are so small, this is nearly impossible. A tick removal tool is your best bet.

That same study done by Ohio State University found that tick removal tools yielded better results (meaning ticks were more fully and easily removed) than tweezers. Once the tick is removed, clean the area with alcohol, and apply antibiotic ointment to ward off infection. Keep an eye on the spot for the next several days, and if it begins to swell, further redden, or produce pus, it may mean part of the tick remained in your pet’s skin, and should be removed by a vet to prevent a worsening infection.

Emergency Phone Numbers

You’ll be able to handle many first-aid situations for your pet without professional intervention, but if something more serious does occur, having emergency phone numbers in your first-aid kit will allow you to get help quickly. The first number you should have is your own vet’s. They have all your pet’s records, and know her medical history. If your vet has limited hours, though, you also need an emergency vet’s number. Emergency vets are like urgent care facilities in that they are often open in the evenings and on weekends when most regular vets are closed. Make sure you also know where the closest emergency vet is located.

You’ll also want to keep the number for the National Animal Poison Control Center handy (888-426-4435). If your pet ingests something toxic such as a plant, cleaning solution, or pesticide, they’ll be able to give you instructions for immediate first-aid until you can get your pet to the vet’s office. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with a list of things that are toxic to pets, to ensure you either keep them out of your pet’s reach, or don’t have them in the house at all.

In addition to keeping these emergency numbers in your pet first-aid kit, it’s also advisable to keep them in other prominent locations, like posted on your refrigerator and programmed in your cell phone, for quick access in an emergency.

A Few More Pet First-Aid Tips

  • Make sure all family members know where the pet first-aid kit is, and how to use everything in it (except children who are too young, of course).
  • Make sure all family members know where the emergency phone numbers are kept.
  • Consider keeping a second pet first-aid kit in the car for road trips, but also in the event something should happen during a short trip, like on the way to the vet or the groomer.
  • For a more thorough list of items to keep in a pet first-aid kit, see the Red Cross list.
  • To learn more about first-aid procedures, read Pet First Aid, a collaboration between the American Red Cross and The Humane Society of the United States.

Having a pet first-aid kit, and knowing how to provide emergency care will put your mind at ease, and help avoid the unthinkable if and when an emergency situation does arise.

Jackie Roberts is a writer for 1-800-PetMeds, and loves to help and support the pet community. You can find Pet Meds on Twitter or connect with Pet Meds on Facebook.

Filed under: Dog Care

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