pet first aid

April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month.  If you don’t have a first aid kit for your household, now is the time to remember to get one.  If you already have a first aid kit around, you can use this for the two-legged and four-legged members in your household.  Keep in mind however, that while human first aid kits are typically sufficient, they may not have everything that you need specifically tailored for your dog or cat.  For a good pet first aid kit, check out the American Red Cross’s recommendations found here.  But don’t forget to add these essential items.

  • A fresh, unexpired bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide.

This isn’t for cleaning wounds necessarily, but rather for inducing vomiting if your dog gets into something poisonous.  Accidental poisonings in our pets occur frequently so you always want to be prepared to induce vomiting if necessary.  That said, never induce vomiting without consulting your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680), as sometimes it can make your pet worse.

  • A bottle of liquid dish soap (e.g. Dawn, Joy, etc.).

This would be used to safely remove any potentially poisonous chemical or toxin from an animal’s fur.  For example, if your cat accidentally had a dog flea and tick medication put on it, you will need to bathe off this chemical immediately to prevent tremors and seizures.  Likewise, if your pet rolled in something poisonous (like motor oil, etc.) you can safely bathe it off with liquid dish soap.

  • A can of tuna (in water) or a can of chicken broth.

You’re probably wondering why this needs to be in the first aid kit.  Some plants, household products and household cleaners can cause severe foaming and drooling of the mouth due to irritation.  By simply diluting the taste or chemical out of your pet’s mouth with something tasty (like the water from the tuna can), it can safely flush out the mouth and esophagus.  This is much safer than using a spray or hose to flush out your pet’s mouth, as there is a chance your pet could aspirate that fluid into their lungs.

  • A “Pet to Go Bag” in case of emergency.

This should include several cans of pet food and bottles of water.  Making sure that you have canned foods with pop-off lids is important in case you need to feed your pet during a disaster (since you’re unlikely to remember to grab your can opener on the run). Don’t use dry kibble which can go rancid after a few years.  A  familiar blanket is also recommended to help your pet feel safe in a strange environment.  Also, a quart size bag of kitty litter is a good idea.  Again, you never know when you have to evacuate quickly with your pet.

Some additional tips.

Always pre-program your cell phone with the phone numbers to your veterinarian, your emergency veterinarian and Pet Poison Helpline in case of emergency.

Always pre-program the address of your veterinarian’s office and the emergency veterinarian’s office into your car’s GPS so you can get there immediately in case of emergency.

Secure pet health information, such as medication prescriptions and vaccination files, online so that your files won’t be destroyed during a disaster.