When your pet has a medical emergency, it is important be prepared before it occurs. Know how your veterinarian handles emergencies and where to go if you have one. You can also be prepared for emergencies by putting together a pet first aid kit.

First aid is not a substitute for veterinary treatment. However, before you are able get your pet to emergency care some basic first aid might be helpful.

Useful Items to Include in Your first aid Kit:

  • Scissors – for cutting out things matted in fur, freeing your pet from entanglements.
  • Sterile eye wash – make sure it is eye wash, not contact lens solution.
  • Tweezers – to remove splinters, or other foreign materials from wounds.
  • Tick remover tool – if you are in a tick-infested area, consider one of many tools to easily remove ticks and reduce additional damage or infection during removal.
  • Ear wash – speak to your vet about what one would be best for your pet. 
  • Toenail trimmer and styptic pencil – for torn toenails. Cornstarch also works for torn nails, but not for skin wounds.
  • Tape – preferably the 1″ white medical tape. Easy to tear off and holds well.
  • Vet Wrap – this is a conforming bandage wrap used over a telfa pad. 
  • Telfa pads – non-stick dressings for bandaging a wound.
  • Bandage Scissors – these scissors have a blunted blade to easily slip between skin and bandage material and not cut the patient’s skin.
  • Antiseptic wash or wipes – look for non-stinging preparations such as chlorhexidine or betadine.
  • Antibiotic ointment – over-the-counter “general purpose” antibiotic ointment for light use with minor skin wounds.
  • Vet-prescribed pain relief (NSAID) – speak to your vet about obtaining as-needed first aid kit pain relief. Do not use human prescription or over-the-counter pain medications for pets. Some medications, like Tylenol, are poisonous and may be fatal to pets. 
  • Latex or plastic exam gloves – for your protection and your pet’s protection – use when the situation is messy.
  • A muzzle – or materials to make a muzzle. Even the most well-trained animals may bite when injured or afraid.
  • Thermometer – know the normals for dog and cat vital signs and how to use the thermometer. 
  • Water-based lubricating jelly – for use with rectal thermometers.
  • Ice and hot packs – cool down skin after a burn or keep an animal warm if hypothermic. Always use a cloth between the pack and skin and check frequently for redness or irritation.
  • Extra towels, wash cloths and a blanket – use for washing, keeping warm/cool, and if necessary, a way to transport the injured pet (sling).
  • Diphenhydramine (aka Benadryl) – for stings and allergic reactions.
  • Syringe or large eye dropper – to flush wounds or administer fluids by mouth.
  • A list of phone numbers – your regular vet, the emergency vet, animal control, and animal poison control numbers.