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- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
When it comes to preventing accidents and injuries, utilizing some common-sense safety measures around your pets can go a long way.
However, as much as you try to train your pet or go out of your way to avoid potentially negative situations, your dog may inevitably end up with minor scrapes or cuts or ingest something he shouldn’t. In these situations, having a pet first aid kit on hand can make accidents and injuries a lot less panic-inducing, and might even save you a trip to the vet.
Below is an easy and handy guide to putting together an awesome first aid kit for your dog. (Pro tip: keep one at home and one in the car.) That way you’ll be prepared in case of an injury, or if your dog swallows something weird while out on a walk, or at the dog park.
Although you can buy a ready-made pet first aid kit such as this one made by Pawesome, you can customize one to the needs of your specific pet with some items you may already have in the medicine cabinet or pantry, plus a few others you can pick up online or at a local pet store.
Accidents can happen when you least expect them, even in the safety of your own home. While we hope you never need it, a first aid kit will go a long way towards keeping your pooch healthy and safe.
Read on for tips and topics to consider when assembling a pet first aid kit.
Step 1: Gather Information
First things first: Gather copies of important phone numbers, paperwork, and pet health records and put them in a safe place. These include things such as:
- Your vet’s phone number and the number for your closest 24-hour emergency vet
- Your pet’s vaccination history
- A recent photo (in case your pet gets lost)
- The ASPCA Poison Control hotline (888) 426-4435 for emergency poisoning information and support
Once you have your pet’s paperwork in order (ideally collected in a waterproof envelope or sleeve like this), you can move on to step 2.
Step 2: Invest in A Pet First Aid Guidebook
Instead of consulting the internet for what to do in a pet emergency, which can sometimes lead to conflicting or non-expert advice (and can also be problematic during national emergencies or natural disasters when internet service is disconnected), having a pet first aid guidebook can let you know exactly what to do in any given situation.
Best of all, the information has all been thoroughly vetted by veterinarians, so you know you can trust it. This particular book:
- Is organized alphabetically by each injury/illness so you can quickly flip to the right section
- Includes a helpful list of human medicines that are OK to administer to pets
- Also contains charts for temperature, heart rate, and responsiveness to help you gauge your pet’s condition
Another reference we use here at Rover that is useful to have on hand for general dog health troubleshooting is the Hound Health Handbook.Shop Now
Step 3: Gather and Organize Your Supplies
Keep everything organized and handy in a waterproof organizer such as this toolkit with a removable top tray, or this heavy-duty locking style that will keep curious pets and children out. Now, start collecting your first aid items.
- Vet wrap
- Activated charcoal (which can save your dog’s life from accidental poisoning)
- Blunt-end scissors
- An instant cold pack
- Hydrogen peroxide (used to induce vomiting in dogs in an emergency)
- Tweezers, and an old credit-card for removing bee stingers
- Cotton balls and swabs
- A penlight or flashlight
- Nail clippers
- Veterinary antibiotic ointment (as antibiotic creams such as Neosporin is not recommended for dogs)
- Vetericyn (for ouch-free wound cleaning and to help with skin irritations)
Step 3: Collect Other Emergency Essentials
If your pet first aid organizer is roomy enough (should storage such as a Rubbermaid tote be better suited to your needs), or there’s room nearby to store other in-case-of-emergency items, consider gathering a few other things you may need to transport, move, or comfort a sick or injured pet.
- A pet carrier
- A spare leash (such as a slip rope leash, that allow you to quickly secure a dog on the move)
- A collapsible water bowl and extra water
- Your dog’s favorite, non-perishable treats, and a spare favorite toy
Step 4: Get It All Together and Review
Now that you have all the items, resources, and information to make your own pet first aid kit, take some time to organize your kit and review any information presented here you need more time with.
With your pet’s health and safety now top of mind, it’s a good idea to start thinking of an emergency preparedness plan for your pet in the case of a natural disaster.
Check out recommendations from the International Red Cross, the ASPCA, and the CDC that include suggestions such as coming up with a plan, establishing a designated caregiver, and putting together an emergency kit (many items which you may already have in your first aid kit).
The video below walks you through some of the items we suggest to put in an emergency kit for your dog.
Keeping a fully-stocked first aid kit on hand for your dog can prevent minor injuries from escalating to a situation that requires a trip to the pet hospital at 2 a.m.
For example, an antibiotic ointment may prevent a scrape from becoming infected, while some pet-friendly activated charcoal mixed with water might ease your worry if you’re unsure if your dog ate something that he shouldn’t have.
We hope you never have to use these items and enjoy a safe and happy life with your pet. But when it comes to the health and safety of your dog or cat, it’s better safe than sorry.