While veterinary emergencies don’t happen every day, it is important to recognize that accidents do happen. Whether you are close to home, traveling or on the road, making sure you have the appropriate supplies can help you treat your beloved pet companion prior to getting them in to see a veterinarian or when a veterinarian’s visit may not be necessary.
In honor of April’s National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, take some time to prepare your very own pet home health care kit. You may even consider creating two — one to keep at home and the other in your car for when you’re out and about.
There are several ways you can go about developing your pet home care kit:
- You can buy a first aid kit designed for people and add pet-specific items to it;
- You can purchase an off-the-shelf pet first aid kit from a pet-supply store or catalog; or
- You can assemble your own kit by gathering the items we have provided on our list
What do you need to include in your kit? Because it’s not a “one-size-fits-all” answer, creating your own kit, or adding to a pre-made one, may be the best way to have a kit tailored for your pet’s lifestyle and needs.
Once you’ve collected all of the items for your home health care kit, you will need a sturdy, easy to carry box made of either plastic or metal to hold all of your supplies. Plastic or thermal lunch boxes make good and inexpensive containers. For added protection, you can store the contents in sealable plastic bags inside the box.
In addition to the supply list provided here, let’s start with some important information to either tape to the outside of your kit, or place inside:
- Your pet’s primary care veterinarian’s office and emergency phone numbers
- List of medications your pet takes and any past medical history, lab work (keep your pet’s health file accessible)
- The phone number and address of the closest emergency animal hospital or 24-hour referral center.
- The phone number of your local animal ambulance or transportation service, if one is available.
- In MA, your town’s dog officer.
- The Animal Poison Control Center of the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) hotline at 1-888-426-4435 or (1-888-4ANI-HELP) (the call is toll-free, but a consultation fee may be applied). Another resource for you is the Pet Poison Helpline open 24/7 at 1-800-213-6680 (a $39 per incident fee applies).
At the same time you are putting your kit together, place the important numbers next to your phone.
As you can see, most of the items can be found at your local pharmacy, pet store or veterinary practice. We are all familiar with the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.” While you may not be able to deal with all emergencies without the help of a medical professional, you will be prepared to provide initial care for your pet in the event of an injury or when a little TLC or home care is needed.
Recommended Items for Your Pet Home Health Kit
|Basic First Aid Supplies
- Roll gauze – used for bandaging, to stop bleeding and padding for splints
- Non-stick bandage pads such as Telfa pads
- Adhesive tape
- Antiseptic wash or wipes (non-stinging preparations such as chlorhexidine or betadine)
- Antibiotic ointment
- Hydrogen Peroxide (this can be used when directed by a veterinarian or poison control expert, to induce vomiting)
- Sterile saline solution
- Ear/Eye wash or wipes
- Non-latex disposable gloves
- Scissors (with blunt ends)
- Tick Remover tool
- Rectal thermometer
- Petroleum or water based lubricant Jelly (to lubricate thermometer)
- Nail clippers
- Diphenhydramine (aka Benadryl) for stings and allergic reactions; please call your vet for advice. Some cases can be treated at home, others require a trip to the hospital.
- Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting
- Extra leash (also convenient should you find a stray dog)
- Vet Wrap – self-cling bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur
Other Useful Items to Keep in your Car or nearby:
- Flashlight or penlight
- Pet crate or carrier (a safe, calming place for your pet and a safe way to transport)
- Bottled water and bowl or other container to use for water
- Towels and rags