americanredcross_imageOne night I got a call from my friend asking if I had styptic powder. She had cut her dog’s nail too close to the quick and now the nail was bleeding profusely. I pulled out our pet first-aid kit to find that not only were we all out of styptic powder, but we were short on many other medical supplies as well. It was time to head to the store.

Experts at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recommend that anyone who shares a home with a pet should keep a pet first-aid kit on hand. You can purchase a first-aid kit designed for people and add pet-specific items to that, or you can purchase a specialized kit at a pet store or from a catalog. Alternately, you can start your own kit from scratch.

As we get ready to welcome in the New Year, what better time to restock an existing first-aid kit or to start a kit if you haven’t had one before.  Following are suggestions from the HSUS on what to include in a basic pet first-aid kit:

Pet-Specific Supplies:

  • The phone number for your veterinarian’s office and the number for a 24-hour emergency veterinary office (it’s also a good idea to have the address of the 24-hour animal hospital saved to your GPS incase of an emergency)
  • The number for the ASPCA  Animal Poison Control Center 888-426-4435 (for more information and to learn about foods that are toxic to your pet go to http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/)
  • Paperwork for your pet (in a waterproof container or bag): proof of current rabies vaccination, copies of other important medical records and a current photo of your pet (in case he/she gets lost)
  • Nylon leash
  • Self-cling bandage — a bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur—available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogs. (Never use regular band aids on a pet as they are difficult to remove)
  • Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting (don’t use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing or otherwise having difficulty breathing)

Basic First-Aid Supplies:

  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
  • Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Gauze rolls
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
  • Ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
  • Rectal thermometer (your pet’s temperature should not rise above 103°F or fall below 100°F)
  • Scissors (with blunt ends)
  • Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
  • Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies)
  • Tweezers
  • A pillowcase to confine your cat for treatment
  • A pet carrier

For more information on putting together a pet first-aid kit, please visit the HSUS at http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/pet_first_aid_kit.html

The American Red Cross has put together Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid guidebooks with DVDs demonstrating how to perform many of the first-aid steps outlined in the books. These publications cover the symptoms and care for nearly 70 common canine ailments and emergencies and more than 60 feline health conditions. For more information on these books and on pet health and safety, please visit http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/those-who-need-extra-help/pets