Pet care 911: Your first aid kit checklist


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PetFirstAidIt’s 3 p.m. on Sunday, and your local veterinarian has just left for the day. At 3:01, your dog has swallowed your travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer and your cat starts vomiting.

We’re talking minor emergencies here, not big emergencies that warrant a visit to the prohibitively expensive 24-hour pet hospital. It never fails, either — that good old reliable law of Murphy seems to ensure your pet gets into some sort of trouble that requires immediate attention the second the regular vet clinic is closed.

So be ready! Have a pet first aid kit handy for when the dog poop hits the fan. You can either purchase first aid kits from your local pet supplies shop or chain store, or check out the Red Cross, which offers a list of supplies you should have on hand in case of emergencies.

If you decide to go DIY style, here are some of the items you should have on hand:

  • Nylon leash;
  • Gauze pads;
  • Adhesive tape;
  • Cotton balls;
  • Antiseptic spray;
  • Thermometer and petroleum jelly to lubricate it;
  • Non-latex disposable gloves,
  • Tweezers;
  • Scissors with blunt edges;
  • Self-cling bandage, which stretches and sticks to itself rather than to your pet’s fur;
  • Pedialyte and pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) in the event of an icky tummy;
  • Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in cases where your pet has swallowed something poisonous — remember to only induce vomiting if directed by a veterinarian or poison control center; and
  • Muzzle, which will keep your pet from biting you if you have to clean wounds or remove splinters — do NOT muzzle your pet if he is vomiting, choking, coughing or having difficulty breathing.


Keep your supplies in one place or at least in one room so you aren’t running around trying to locate supplies. And be sure to keep those supplies out of kids’ reach — both the two-legged and four-legged variety. It’s also important to check your supplies to see how low you may be running and to make sure nothing has expired.

In addition to having the necessary supplies, keep all relevant phone numbers in one place — on the fridge or whiteboard, for example. Numbers should include your pet’s veterinarian, the nearest emergency veterinary clinic with directions on how to get there and a poison-control center or hotline. (The ASPCA poison control center number is 800-426-4435.)

You may also need to administer first aid while getting your pet to an emergency veterinary hospital, so bookmark HealthyPet.com’s first aid page, which offers advice on what to do in such cases as bleeding, burns, seizures and heat stroke. Arm yourself with the know-how before your pet needs assistance, so you’re not getting a crash course while in a panic.