April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month

April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to talk about the essential items all pet owners should have in their pet first aid kit. 

Remember, prevention is key! 

Not only should pet owners have these items on hand, but they need to know how to use them. Pet owners may also consider being familiar with common first-aid maneuvers such as the Heimlich maneuver and CPR.

When it comes to our pets, we treat them like family. Being prepared and well equipped to handle an emergency at home, on the road, or a walk are all a part of being a dog owner. So, if you haven’t already, right now is the perfect time to put together your first aid kit for your pet. 

Do I Need a First Aid Kit For My Pet?

YES! Having a first aid kit for your pet is essential. Just like with kids, our pets get into all kinds of trouble that we could never have planned for or even imagined. No matter how diligent of an owner you are, your pet always has the potential to be injured or become ill. 

While many items in our personal home first aid kits can be used for our pets, animals have special needs when it comes to illness and injury. The good news is that you don’t always have to buy dog or cat-specific items. You can assemble a kit for your pet to keep on hand with standard medical supplies. 

I like to keep my first aid kit and my dog’s first aid kit separate. This is a personal choice, but I highly recommend it. It helps me to stay organized, and I always know what I have on hand for the two of us.

While many of our supplies will overlap, I need more of certain items for him than I do for me and vice versa. 

I like having a first aid kit just for him in case we go on a trip or if someone is watching him for a few days. I can easily slip it into his overnight bag, and I’ll know they will have the supplies they need in case of an emergency. Keeping it in a portable case is helpful for hiking and travel as well. 

Just remember that the first aid kit is intended only for minor injuries/illnesses or to stabilize your pet until you can get to a veterinarian. 

Must-Have Pet First Aid Kit Items

Knowing exactly what to keep in the first aid kit will be determined by your pet’s specific needs and size. There are some general guidelines that we can provide, but it will be up to you to decide how many of each item to have at a given time. Check your kit once a month to make sure no items are expired and to see if you need to add anything new. 

Here’s what all pet first aid kits should include:

  • Gauze pads/wrap
  • Adhesive tape
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Disposable gloves
  • Ice pack
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Disinfectant/wound cleaning spray
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Wet wipes
  • Paw wax/balm 
  • Styptic powder (to stop bleeding)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting)
  • Oral syringe 
  • Saline solution and artificial tear gel
  • Antihistamines (allergy medications)
  • Anti-diarrheal medications
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Scissors with a blunt end
  • Tweezers
  • Emergency information: vet phone number, clinic name, list of medications, other medical information like vaccinations or allergies  

Additional items to include for a complete emergency pet kit:

Dog first aid

Ash and a post injury paw wrap

Why I Keep an Emergency Kit

My dog, Ash, and I love hiking, biking, and camping. All of these outdoor activities are a dream for a dog.

Still, he is a curious pup and has had no shortage of injury. Paws are an extremely injury-prone spot for dogs, especially with active owners. I always make sure I have extra paw balm and tweezers with me when we go on hikes, but other owners may need more of other items. How much of each item you have in you kit will be determined by your intended use and your pet’s needs.

As you can tell by the picture, I’ve also chosen to add a pair of old socks to my kit. I put this over a paw wrapping to keep him from biting at it. Plus, it keeps it from getting dirty if we are outside.

I also always keep an emergency kit in my car both for him and for me. The kit for Ash includes what is on the additional list of items. This kit has only been used a few times, and one of those times it was because I found a stray dog. It was perfect to have some food and water for them right away, plus, I had a leash and collar for them to wear. 

Should I Make My Own or Buy One?

If you are debating whether or not to make your own kit, first consider what you have on hand. If you already have a container or carrying case, then use that. If you are a new pet owner or investing in your first kit, then you may want to get a premade one. This will give you a jump start on supplies and a place to keep them. 

There are pros and cons to the pre-assembled first aid kit, but one significant advantage is that most of them come with all of the items we listed plus a first aid manual. Additionally, some have extra space inside for you to add a few more things. 

Thinking about buying a first aid kit for your pet? Check out the kits below! These are all great for camping, travel, and at-home use. 

Learn Pet First Aid

Just having a first aid kit is only the beginning. It is necessary to also know how to use the materials properly. Pet first aid has some overlap with human first aid, but it isn’t all the same. Our pets have their own medical needs so learning how to care for them is extremely important.

The American Red Cross has some fantastic pet-specific resources and online courses for dog and cat first aid training. Visit their website for more information and consider downloading their pet first aid app for on the go first aid reference! 

Pet owners should always consult with their veterinarians for more recommendations as to what should be included in their pet first aid kit and how to use the items. Be sure to also keep emergency phone numbers on hand, such as the nearest emergency veterinarian and the poison control hotline.

Being prepared is the first step in making sure your dog stays safe no matter your location! If you’re on the road or on a hike, a pet first aid kit could save your best friend’s life.

 

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