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While impossible to prepare for all emergencies, there are some precautions pet owners may want to consider; in today’s veterinary blog, ER Veterinarian Dr. Sheryl Kepping offers some insight on must-haves for a pet first aid kit.

A sudden illness or injury for your pet is something you hope to avoid. Unfortunately, unexpected pet ailments will likely occur at some point. Being prepared for an emergency can offer you some peace of mind, help stabilize your pet, keep your pet safe, and reduce further injury until you can pursue veterinary care.

A pet first-aid kit can be a helpful resource in an emergency. Commercial kits can readily be purchased online, in stores, or at many local veterinary hospitals. A home-made kit can be just as effective and is fairly simple to compile.

Items to include:Dr. Sheryl Kepping is one of WestVet's Emergency veterinary doctors

  • Sterile dressings, absorbent materials, and bandaging supplies. Common bandage materials include rolled gauze or cast padding, Vetwrap, porous medical white tape or Elasticon, though this can sometimes be difficult to remove from fur. Sheryl Kepping ER Vet - What to put in your pet first aid kit.
  • Water for your pet to drink and to clean a wound. It is not recommended to use alcohol or peroxide on an open wound as they can damage healthy tissue.
  • A triple antibiotic ointment may be placed over a wound prior to bandaging though it should not be used for punctures or deep wounds. Bandages should only be applied to help protect a wound until it can be assessed by a veterinarian where additional care can be recommended such as deep cleaning or suturing of the wound. 
  • An extra leash.
  • A small blanket to help carry your pet if he/she is injured or cover larger wounds
  • Tweezers, for splinter or tick removal.
  • An extra Elizabethan collar to prevent your pet from licking at any wounds or chewing/licking at any bandage placed.

A note of caution regarding medications. Some pet owners may have been told to use Benadryl for allergic reactions or aspirin for pain for pets. While these medications may be used in veterinary medicine, it is recommended that you contact a veterinarian prior to giving any over-the-counter medications to ensure the dose is appropriate for your pet, that the medications will not interact with current medications, or exasperate any underlying conditions your pet may have. Other over-the-counter medications, such as Advil (ibuprofen), Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Aleve (naproxen), are not recommended and are very toxic—potentially life threatening—to pets.

Once assembled, keep the pet first-aid kit in a small portable bag so it’s quick to find at home and easy to transport for traveling, camping, and hiking trips. A first-aid kit can be helpful to have in order to stabilize your pet, but it cannot nor should not replace a professional evaluation and treatment from a veterinarian.

If you are concerned that your pet is behaving abnormally or has an injury, it is always appropriate to consult your veterinarian right away. If your veterinarian is unavailable, WestVet is open and able to address your concerns 24 hours a day. 

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