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February 7, 2014

What You Should Have in Your Pet's First- Aid Kit

Learn what supplies you'll need to keep your cat, dog, or other pet safe and healthy

Everyone who shares a home with a pet should have a basic pet first-aid kit on hand.

Keep your pet's first-aid kit in your home and take it with you in your car if you are traveling with your pet.

One way to start your kit is to buy a first-aid kit designed for people and add pet-specific items to it.

You can also purchase a pet first-aid kit from a pet-supply store or catalog. But you can easily assemble your own kit by gathering the items on our lists below.

Pet-specific supplies

  • Pet first-aid book
  • Phone numbers: your veterinarian, the nearest emergency-veterinary clinic (along with directions!), and a poison-control center or hotline (such as the ASPCA poison-control center, which can be reached at 1-800-426-4435)
  • Paperwork for your pet (in a waterproof container or bag): proof of rabies-vaccination status, copies of other important medical records, and a current photo of your pet (in case he gets lost)
  • Nylon leash
  • Self-cling bandage (bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur—available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogs)
  • Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting (don't use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing, or otherwise having difficulty breathing)

Basic first-aid supplies

  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder, or spray
  • Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Gauze rolls
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
  • Ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
  • Rectal thermometer (your pet's temperature should not rise above 103°F or fall below 100°F)
  • Scissors (with blunt ends)
  • Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
  • Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies)
  • Tweezers
  • A pillowcase to confine your cat for treatment
  • A pet carrier

Other useful items

  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), if approved by a veterinarian for allergic reactions. A veterinarian must tell you the correct dosage for your pet's size.
  • Ear-cleaning solution
  • Expired credit card or sample credit card (from direct-mail credit-card offers) to scrape away insect stingers
  • Glucose paste or corn syrup (for diabetic dogs or those with low blood sugar)
  • Nail clippers
  • Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
  • Penlight or flashlight
  • Plastic eyedropper or syringe
  • Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) to clean the thermometer
  • Splints and tongue depressors
  • Styptic powder or pencil (sold at veterinary hospitals, pet-supply stores, and your local pharmacy)
  • Temporary identification tag (to put your local contact information on your pet's collar when you travel)
  • Towels
  • Needle-nosed pliers

Common-sense advice

In addition to the items listed above, include anything your veterinarian has recommended specifically for your pet.

Check the supplies in your pet's first-aid kit occasionally and replace any items that have expired.

For your family's safety, keep all medical supplies and medications out of the reach of children and pets.

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