First Aid is something almost every one of us has had to think about at some point in our lives. We’ve heard to keep a First-Aid Kit in our car and another at home. We may have an emergency plan in place for our family members and may have basic training in how to address accidents, injuries, and illnesses.

Our pets also need us to have an emergency plan, since pets – like children – are dependent upon us to respond to an emergency with the tools and information needed in the moment. Unfortunately, because we don’t like thinking about an emergency or disaster if we can avoid it, relatively few pet owners are prepared if/when an emergency strikes.

As pet champions, many of our readers may now be wondering where they stand on the Pet First Aid readiness, and where to begin? We can help! Here is a basic outline of what you need to keep in your Pet First-Aid Kit, and how to respond until you can get your pet to the clinic.

Responding to a Pet Injury or Accident

Before reacting to any emergency situation, scan the area for dangers. In the case of a dogfight, get help separating the dogs and do not put yourself between them or put your hands near the fight zone (although a well-booted foot can work wonders for separation). If the injured pet is in the street, check for oncoming traffic before running out. It seems like common sense, but in a panic and a surge of protectiveness, it is easy to overlook our own safety.

If it is safe to proceed…

  • Before moving your pet, consider stabilizing any visible injuries
  • Keep your pet warm with a towel or old blanket
  • Use a soothing, calm voice as you work, to help reassure your pet
  • Remember that your pet is in distress and likely to respond aggressively out of fear
  • Keep your face and hands away from your pet’s face and mouth
  • Transport your pet (in a crate or pet carrier, unless otherwise directed by your vet) to his or her veterinary clinic or emergency clinic immediately

Creating a Pet First-Aid Kit

While most kits are kept in the home, accidents can and do occur while traveling, too. Remember to make an extra kit for travel, even if it is isn’t as complete as your home kit. Here are some basic items to include in your kit.

  • Instructions – Trying to remember information in an emergency is difficult. The American Red Cross has some amazing “how to” PDFs you can print out and keep in your kit, along with a cool new First-Aid App for easy step-by-step instructions.
  • Foundation items – Most First-Aid Kits will need to include gauze, bandage material, adhesive tape, an emergency blanket, antiseptic wipes or spray, a thermometer, lubricant (for thermometer), ice pack, tweezers, and scissors.
  • Pet supplies – Keep these items in a convenient location: leash, carrier, medical records, medications, and muzzle, when needed.
  • Other items – If you want to add to your kit, you also might include: Diphenhydramine, Milk of Magnesia, and hydrogen peroxide (all are to be used ONLY per the instruction of the veterinarian); and syringe, antibiotic ointment, extra towels or clean cloth strips.
  • Contact information – This will include your regular veterinary clinic’s contact information and after-hours number, Pet Poison Helpline number, an emergency contact in case you’re not at home, and a map of the nearest emergency clinics.

If you want to be better prepared in the event of an emergency, the American Red Cross offers several Pet First Aid classes throughout the country as do local organizations that specialize in Pet First Aid and emergency response.  If you would like suggestions about classes or how to create your pet’s First Aid Kit, please call us for additional information.