Pet First Aid 101

April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month and to celebrate, we are sharing a list of things you need to know in case of an emergency with your pet. As a pet owner, you never want to imagine a situation where your pet requires first aid, but with help from the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association)  we’ve put together key steps and supplies to always have on hand just in case!  

First aid supplies to always keep stocked

  • Phone number to your vet’s office and your pet’s medical records (including medications and vaccination history)
  • Gauze
  • Non-stick bandages, towels, or strips of clean cloth
  • Milk of magnesia or activated charcoal
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
  • Digital thermometer
  • Eye dropper
  • Leash
  • The phone number for Animal Poison Control: 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435)

Tips for handling an injured pet

  • If your pet is injured, it could be in pain and is also most likely scared and confused. You need to be careful to avoid getting hurt, bitten or scratched. Even the most gentle pet can become aggressive when they are in pain or anxious.
  • Perform any examination on your pet slowly and gently, and try to stay as calm as possible.
  • Call your veterinary clinic before you move your pet to ensure they will be ready for your pet when you arrive.
  • If possible, try to stabilize your pet’s injuries before moving them. Do so by splinting or bandaging them.
  • When moving your injured pet, make sure to keep it confined in a small area to reduce the risk of additional injury.

Traveling with your pets

  • When traveling, pack a simple travel-size first aid kit for your pet, similar to the one you have at home, along with an antidiarrheal medication that is safe for animals (ask your veterinarian to suggest a product).
  • Your pet should be wearing an ID tag (which should be labeled with your name, home address and phone number) in addition to a travel tag or collar with information on where you are staying while away from home, so you can be contacted while still in the area.
  • Be sure to have handy the phone numbers of your veterinarian, the national animal poison control hotline (888.426.4235), and a 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital in the area where you will be visiting.

First Aid during a disaster

Be prepared for a disaster with a pet evacuation kit. Assemble the kit well in advance of any emergency and store in an easy-to-carry, waterproof container close to an exit.

Items to include:

  • 3-7 days worth of dry and canned (pop-top) food
  • Two-week supply of medicine
  • Water
  • Feeding dish and water bowl
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Latex gloves
  • Saline solution
  • Towel and washcloth
  • Tweezers
  • Identification papers including proof of ownership
  • Medical records and medication instructions
  • Emergency contact list, including veterinarian and pharmacy
  • Photo of your pet (preferably with you)
  • Favorite toys and treats
  • Extra blanket or familiar bedding
  • Extra collar/harness with ID tags and leash
  • Flashlight, extra batteries

*Always remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until it receives veterinary treatment.