Essential pet first aid kit

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This is a picture of a dog

Be prepared!

If your pet is unexpectedly ill or injured, it's not always possible to have them seen by a vet straight away.  If you have a first aid kit for your pet and a working knowledge of first aid, you can give them on-the-spot treatment and relieve their discomfort.

Human first aid kits often lack the most important items that you may need in an emergency.  The best precaution is to make up your own first aid kit and keep it handy.

A suggested first aid kid should include the following items, although you may want to include some other items specifically for your pet.  Remember these items are designed only for emergency first aid, which is no substitute for professional veterinary care.

Emergency phone numbers

Your vet or local animal shelter contact details to quickly access professional veterinary advice in an emergency. 

Pet first aid book

Vital to be able to assess your pet's condition and provide appropriate emergency treatment.

Moist face wipes 

Handy for cleaning up the patient and yourself.

Disposable gloves

Wearing gloves is often advisable to keep your hands clean and avoid contaminating wounds.

A large roll of cotton wool

Excellent for bathing wounds, applying pressure to stop bleeding and for padding under splints and bandages.

Veterinary antiseptic

Use to disinfect hands and instruments such as scissors.  Choose an antiseptic that is safe for pets, and use only at recommended concentration levels.

Sterile dressings

Ready to use sterile gauze dressings which are coated in a special material which prevents them sticking to open wounds, or burns, are available in single use sealed packets from your vet or pharmacy and can be applied directly over a wound or burn.

Conforming bandages

These cling to the contours of a pet's body or limbs.  Conforming bandages can be used to apply even pressure to wounds eg to control bleeding.

Adhesive bandages

Used as the final layer to hold everything in place and keep the dressing attached to the pet.  Don't apply too tightly to the limbs as this can affect their blood supply.

Wooden/plastic splint

For supporting and relieving the pain of a fractured or dislocated limb, prior to transporting to the vet.

Sterile syringes

Useful for flushing wounds or eyes to remove foreign bodies or dirt, and can also be used to give a pet liquids by mouth.

Foil blanket

Wrapping the patient in a foil blanket helps to retain vital body heat and prevent hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature) associated with shock.

Salt

A weak salt solution (made up with two level teaspoons of salt per litre of clean water) is a safe and effective antiseptic for bathing or flushing wounds.

Curved round-ended scissors

Apart from cutting dressings to size, curved scissors are ideal for clipping hair away from and around the edges of a wound.

Long-handled fine tweezers

Needed to remove foreign bodies such as grass seeds, thorns and splinters.

Magnifying glass

Helpful for examining wounds for foreign bodies.

Small torch and spare batteries

Invaluable if your pet needs first aid where the lighting is poor, and is also useful for checking the eyes, ears and mouth.

Pocket knife

Has a multitude of uses, including cutting dressings, opening containers, piercing lids, cutting string or rope.

Spare collar and lead

Invaluable if you need to treat a dog other than your own.

Muzzle

Even the most trustworthy pet can become aggressive when injured. A muzzle will help prevent your dog from injuring you or anyone else while you examine, treat and transport them.  Avoid leaving a muzzle on for long periods and try not to use a muzzle if the pet has head injuries or is likely to vomit.  A length of gauze bandage secured firmly around the top and bottom jaws can be used as an emergency muzzle if a dog is very distressed or aggressive.

Bubble wrap

An ideal material to place under an injured pet since it is clean, soft and waterproof.  It can also be used as padding under a splint or bandage.

Prepare your pet first aid kit, and keep it in a handy location.  Hopefully you'll never need to use it, but if you do, you'll thank yourself!