While it is vital to call your vet immediately for assistance should your pet be injured, it is also wise to keep a "pet first aid" kit on hand for on-the-spot care until professional help is available. The American Animal Hospital Association reminds us that first aid and a first aid kit are not a substitute for veterinary treatment, however, if you know what to do in an emergency, you may be able to save your pet's life.
As in any emergency, time is critical. Instead of searching through your home for supplies, create a pet first aid kit that is kept easily accessible. Some of things that every pet owner should have in their kit are:
- A comprehensive book on first aid for pets.
- Your veterinarians phone number and the phone number for your local emergency animal clinic (in case the emergency happens outside of normal vet hours).
- Gauze to wrap wounds or to the muzzle animal.
- Adhesive tape for bandages.
- Nonstick bandages to protect wounds or control bleeding.
- Towels and cloth.
- Hydrogen Peroxide (3%).
- A large syringe without needle or an eyedropper (to give oral treatments, if instructed).
- A muzzle (gauze or a soft cloth, nylon stocking or necktie) or use towel to cover a small animals head. Do not use in case of vomiting.
- Stretcher: use a blanket held at four corners as a stretcher; a small dog or cat may be wrapped in a towel and placed in a box to keep quiet
- Milk of magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb poison if you are instructed to dispense (be sure to get the advice of your vet or local poison control center before inducing vomiting or treating an animal for poison).
Another resource to keep on hand, in the event your pet ingests a poisonous substance, is The National Animal Poison Control Center, 888-426-4435. This 24-hour, hot line, sponsored by American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is manned by veterinarians specially trained in poison control. They are available to advise animal owners and to confer with your veterinarian, for a small fee of $45 per case, which may include numerous consults. For more advice on preparing for pet emergencies, consult your family vet or visit the American Animal Hospital Association website at www.healthypet.com or the American Veterinary Medical Association website at http://www.avma.org/care4pets