As a pet owner, it's always important to be ready for any emergency that may arise with your furry friend. Emergencies can strike at any time, whether you’re at home, running errands around town, or traveling. When they do occur, pet owners should always be prepared with a dog first-aid kit and basic first aid supplies.
A well-stocked first aid kit can help you handle any situation, whether it's a minor scrape or a more serious injury, until you can get your dog to immediate veterinary care. This list will help you assemble everything you’ll need in a first-aid kit for a canine medical emergency or health issue.
Pet First Aid Kit Essentials To Pack
If you are already an experienced traveler, you probably already have a human first aid kit or a box of first aid supplies in your car. But if you take your pets along, it’s important to be sure that your kit is stocked with items specific to their needs.
The exact items you need in your dog first aid kit will of course depend on the activities you do with your dog or cat, but there are some things every pet owner should readily have on hand. Based on different activity levels and interests, we have curated this helpful list of pet first aid item must haves.
Gauze pads, non-stick bandages, and adhesive tape
These items are crucial for wrapping and securing minor wounds, as well as stopping bleeding. Make sure to have a variety of bandages and sizes available. Lightweight, latex-free white medical gauze is a key first-aid item to have around in the event of an injury to either you or your dog. Self-adhesive bandage material and water repellent bandages work well on dogs without sticking to their fur.
Antiseptic wipes or solution
Cleaning a wound is a critical step in preventing infection in any animal. Antiseptic wipes or solution can be used to clean the area around a wound before dressing it and seeking veterinary treatment.
We recommend: THE SWIPE
This is a must-have item for inducing vomiting if your dog has accidentally ingested something toxic. However, it's important to note that you should only induce vomiting under the direction of a veterinarian.
You can dilute hydrogen peroxide with water (about 50/50) and clean blood and wounds, however, hydrogen peroxide can damage the tissue and delay healing. Cover up the wound with a bandage. Apply a small amount of antibacterial ointment and cover the wound with a piece of sterile gauze or other bandage. Use the elastic tape to hold the bandage in place.
An antiseptic is always a good thing to have handy in your first-aid kit, to help prevent infection on an animal in the event of any injury. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC).
Tweezers are an essential part of any first aid kit, particularly if you enjoy hiking or other outdoor activities. The safest way to remove a splinter or a tick is with a clean pair of tweezers. Disinfect the tweezers with alcohol well before and after each use. Tweezers can be used to remove splinters, thorns, or other foreign objects from your dog's skin or paws.
Sterile saline solution
This can be used to flush out wounds and help keep them clean. A sterile saline solution is used to wash, flush, or rinse parts of the body (e.g., wounds). It can also help stop bleeding even with a torn toe nail.
Enjoy going on outdoor adventures with your dog? Do you let your pet outside in the snow, ice, or rain? It’s time to snag some paw protection items. Just as you put on appropriate footwear to keep your feet from getting cold and wet, weather protection booties for dogs can help protect fido’s paws on walks in winter or other times of inclement weather. If your dog won’t tolerate footwear, you can also use paw balm for protection and damage prevention.
We recommend: THE BALM
While you’re taking steps to protect your pet’s paws, be sure to check their paws regularly for signs of wear, injury, or stuck debris. Keep in mind that even indoor-only pets can still sustain paw damage.
A thermal blanket and/or towel
A blanket can be used to keep your pets warm, provide comfort, and even as a makeshift stretcher in an emergency. A towel can help clean up many messes, and creates a soft surface for you to rest your dog on, if they are injured and you need to examine them.
A digital thermometer
It's important to monitor your dog's temperature, especially if they are ill or injured. Be ready with the right tools. Digital thermometers are easy to use on pets and can be found at most pet supply stores.
Normal body temperature for dogs and cats is 101.0 to 102.5°F (38.3 to 39.2°C). Some people and some pets maintain a baseline temperature a little above or below the average, but if your pet's temperature rises above 104°F (40.0°C) or falls below 99°F (37.2°C), take your pet to your regular veterinarian.
Benadryl is considered safe for both dogs and cats when given in small, appropriate doses. When used correctly, the medication can help reduce the effects of allergic reactions in pets.
*Before administering any Benadryl to your cat or dog, however, make sure you’re only giving your pet the original or generic version (diphenhydramine) that does not contain any other active ingredients. Never give your pet an “enhanced” version like Benadryl Allergy Plus. It’s also crucial to talk with your veterinarian ahead of time about what a safe dosage is for your particular pet’s size and breed. Keep that information written down in the first aid kit for easy reference.
Even if medications appears to have little effect on your pet, it’s important to never go over your veterinarian’s recommended dose in order to prevent overdose. Remember, you should always consult with your veterinarian before giving an animal any new medication, even an over-the-counter one like Benadryl.
A flashlight can be helpful for examining wounds in low light situations, as well as for finding your way in the dark. It will make any aid administered much easier.
A pet first aid manual
A pet first aid manual can provide you with helpful information on how to handle various emergency situations, as well as how to perform CPR and other life-saving measures.
An extra leash
We recommend adding an extra leash or a small slip lead to your first aid kit. A slip lead can act as both a collar and a leash. If you ever take your dog to day care, the vet or the groomer, they often give you these for free when you pick up your dog. Save them and add one or two to your kit. Stocking up on supplies is always a good idea.
Paperwork and phone numbers
Always remember to include important paperwork in case of an emergency, including a copy of your pet’s medical records, vaccination records, and any necessary emergency phone numbers.
It's important to regularly check your dog's first aid kit to make sure all the supplies are in good condition and replace anything that may have expired or become damaged. Regularly practicing first aid techniques can also help you feel more confident and able to handle the situation in case of an emergency with an animal.
Additional First Aid Tips
Nobody likes to see their pet get hurt or be in pain. The more preparation you do in anticipation for a pet emergency or accident, the better off both of you will be. In addition to putting together your own pet first aid kit, there are several other things you can do to make your pet’s health a priority:
Even if you are unable to be near your pet’s primary veterinarian, keep the location and phone number of the nearest veterinary clinic or pet emergency hospital in your phone for easy access.
Call your pet’s veterinarian when you’re unsure of how to care for an injury or its severity. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
Follow up any at-home first aid care with a veterinary call or visit.
Be in tune with your pet’s behavior and temperament. Any unusual changes could indicate an injury or other health issue.
Make sure your pet is microchipped with their current information on file.
Download a pet emergency app for your phone (found on both the App Store and Google Play).
Keep your pet insurance information up-to-date.
Yes, the thought of your family pet getting hurt is scary. While it won’t replace trips to the vet, stocking your first aid kit properly (and knowing how to administer basic pet first aid care) will help you tackle simple scrapes and prevent adverse reactions.
Having a well-stocked first aid kit for your dog is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. By taking the necessary steps, you can help ensure your pet's health and well-being in case of an emergency, as well as everyone else in your pack.
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