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    How to Build a Pet First Aid Kit

    Authored by Jodi Helmer

    No one likes to see their pet in pain. But, for curious cats and adventurous dogs, accidents and illnesses can happen.

    Stomach issues, ear infections, joint pain and strains and eye abrasions are among the top reasons pets go to the vet each year. Since pet injuries and illnesses are unpredictable, it’s important to be prepared.

    A pet first kit that is well-stocked with supplies can help you treat your four-legged companion for everything from minor cuts and splinters to upset stomachs. In honor of National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, set aside time to create a pet first aid kit.

    Here are the essentials to include in your pet first aid kit:

    • Antibiotic ointment to apply to minor cuts and scrapes to help prevent infection
    • Antihistamine medication to treat allergic reactions*
    • Bandage tape for securing gauze
    • Cotton balls to clean wounds or apply liquid medications
    • Digital thermometer to check temperatures
    • Disposable gloves to keep wounds clean
    • Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting*
    • Food and treats to reward pets during and after treatment
    • Gauze pads to control bleeding, clean wounds or apply topical medications
    • Leash and collar to safely restrain pets
    • Medications that your pet is currently taking
    • Muzzle to prevent an injured and afraid pet from biting
    • Oral syringe to administer oral medications or flush wounds
    • Pet first aid handbook to review proper procedures for treating illness and injuries
    • Poop bags to clean up diarrhea and vomit or dispose of used gauze and other supplies
    • Scissors to cut bandages or remove collars, leashes or other hazards
    • Self-adhering bandage wrap can be used to secure gauze in place without tape. It’s sometimes called VetWrap.
    • Small flashlight for improved visibility in low light conditions
    • Styptic powder to stop bleeding
    • Sterile saline solution to clean wounds.
    • Towels or blankets to keep your pet warm, clean up messes or provide comfort or use to swaddle your pet to keep them pet during treatment
    • Tweezers to remove splinters and other foreign objects
    • Wet wipes to clean your dog. Choose products designed for dogs
    • Water and a collapsible bowl to provide hydration or clean wounds
    • Waterproof bag to store all of the first aid supplies

    Your pet first aid kit should also include copies of important paperwork like vaccination records, list of pet allergies and current medications. Contact information for your vet, 24-hour animal poison control hotline and the nearest 24-hour emergency vet clinics is also essential. Remember, if there is an emergency, you may not have access to your phone so keeping paper records is important.

    You can also store information—along with complete copies of your pet’s medical records—on a USB device and keeping it in your pet first aid kit. The emergency vet clinics will be better able to treat your pets if they know their full medical histories.

    Whether you purchase a pet first aid kit filled with all of the essentials or create a DIY version, consider buying (or making) an extra.

    It’s a good idea to have a larger pet first aid kit stocked with more supplies that can be stored at home or in the car as well as a smaller kit stocked with the bare minimum supplies like gauze, self-adhering bandage wrap, alcohol swabs, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment and tweezers. These “adventure first aid kits” can be tucked into your backpack for hiking, hunting or camping adventures.

    Check your pet first aid kit twice a year to ensure that supplies are well-stocked and items like hydrogen peroxide and antihistamines haven’t expired.

    Along with stocking essential first aid items, consider signing up for a pet first aid class to learn hands-on skills that could be lifesaving if you need to provide immediate treatment. Ask your veterinarian about local classes.

    A pet first aid kit provides peace of mind that you’re prepared if your four-legged friend is sick or injured and can allow you to help your pet feel more comfortable until you can see a veterinarian for professional care.

    * Always call your veterinarian or poison control center before inducing vomiting or offering over-the-counter medications to get advice on dosages.