As with our emergency info sheets, it’s better to be prepared and hope you never need to dip into your first aid kit or go-bags. In follow on to our free emergency pet information templates, we’re sniffing through our emergency supplies for people and pets. Are you stocked and ready? We’re sharing the details on creating our pet-friendly home first aid kit for our dogs and cat, with handy tips, links, and resources for assembling your own pet first aid kit.
Customising the Contents for a Pet First Aid Kit
Planning Your Pet First Aid Kit
Contents for a pet first aid kit can be customised to suit your pet, purpose, and probable usage. Customisations will also depend on whether you’re sharing with the pets, but we’ll talk more about that below. Items to stock in pet-friendly first aid kit depend on:
- Type of pet(s)
- Special medical issues
- Local area health risks
- Purpose of the kit
What you pack in a first aid kit for a hike would be different from a home first-aid kit, which might be different again from an emergency or evacuation “go bag” kit for your vehicle. There may also be individual health issues for your pet that you cater for in your kit, such as known allergies. There may also be local health risks, such as snake bites or ticks, to factor into your plans.
Separate vs. Shared First Aid Kits
Personally, I feel that there is a lot of overlap between pet first aid kits and our human first aid kits. Most items are common-use and some are lifed, so it seems more efficient (for our situation at least) to have a few extras in our main home first aid kit and with the vehicle kits instead of completely stand alone pet first aid kits. But for others, it might make more sense to have specialised kits.
Stocking a Pet-Friendly First Aid Kit
The AVMA has a good comprehensive list of emergency pet first aid supplies. Their printable pet first aid brochure (I keep a copy in my own kit) also includes a list. The ASPCA also has a printable pet first aid kit list. Many of these items are common to a standard first aid kit, but there are some variations and additions for pets. If you don’t already have a stocked personal/family first aid kit, you can check out the Red Cross, St. John, or your local equivalent for advice. You can make your own, buy a ready-made first aid kit (affiliate link), or modify the contents of a ready-made first aid kit. Ready-made pet first aid kits (affiliate link) are also available.
The Contents of Our Pet-Friendly First Aid Kit
Extra Items Added to Our Shared First Aid Kit for Pets
A few extra items were added to our kit to better cater for our pets (currently two dogs and a cat). These include a few new shared supplies and a few pet-specific items:
Pet Documents and Records:
- Pet emergency information record sheets. My free pet information sheet templates are shared here on the blog.
- Pet first aid booklet. I have a copy of the free AVMA printable booklet in our kit.
Pet-Specific Equipment and Tools:
- Flexible-tipped thermometer (not sharing… hehe…). If possible, get a pet thermometer (affiliate link) or a standard thermometer that has a high/fever rating to ensure it can handle a suitable range for checking pet temperatures.
- Pet nail clippers.
- Comb and disposable razor in case fur needs to be carefully removed for care.
- Our emergency supplies also include a few special extras that are handy for use/reuse. Over the years, we’ve also accumulated two different sizes of the cone of shame and a donut of despair donut collar (affiliate link). There is also an emergency pet mobility sling support. Although we don’t keep these in our kit, they’re on hand nearby in the closet for use if needed.
Pet-Specific Medical Supplies:
- Self-adherent cohesive bandages (sticks to self, not to fur). You can get cohesive bandages (affiliate link) in the standard first-aid supply section of most department stores, pharmacies, and pet shops. Also referred to as vet tape, sports wrap, or other similar names but it’s all the same sort of thing: a stretchy bandage wrap material that only sticks to itself, not skin, fur, hair, etc. They’re one of the things we’ve used most often from our kit over the years.
- Peroxide. This may be a staple for some household first aid kits, but it’s not that common here. It can be used at the direction of a vet if induced vomiting if needed and the pet can’t safely be brought to the vet in time. Only on the direction of the vet!
- Plain eye drops (or eye wash).
- Styptic powder. Very handy for assisting with clotting, if required. Dog Dad has been known to borrow it for shaving cuts too.
- Bitter wound guard. Deters licking, nibbling, or biting during healing. We would normally have some of this on hand in case needed, but now it lives with the rest of our pet medical supplies.
- Ear wash. We would normally have some on hand in case needed, but now it lives with the rest of our pet medical supplies.
Other General Use Additions:
- Activated charcoal.
- Washcloth. Preferably a soft but old and expendable washcloth.
- Water-only baby wipes.
- Poo bags. I keep a roll in the kit, just so that there is a bag readily available for any potential messes.
- Tongue depressors (Popsicle sticks).
- Ear plugs.
- Non-needle measuring syringes. Useful for administering measured quantities or as flushing devices. In the years since the kit was first created, I’ve added a few of these in different sizes.
- Finger cots. These were also a more recent addition to our first aid kit. They’re one fingertip mini gloves. Was less waste than a full glove. Handy if rubbing in a cream or ointment that should be limited contact other than the patient.
- Anti-microbial soap. Another more recent addition was a mild pet safe anti-microbial soap for wound or rash cleaning. Ask your vet for product recommendations or a buy a small / decanted bottle, if available. We have a bottle of microshield.
Other pet-friendly first aid kit items such as thermals, gauze, elastics, tapes, scissors, tweezers, disinfectants, gloves, etc. were already part of the normal general use supplies in our existing kit. No need to double up on cost, space, or potential expiry.
Special Additions for Pet Medical Issues
Our dogs occasionally suffer from sensitive skin due to certain plants in our area, so we also have a tube of a prescription topical cream from the vet at the ready, just in case. The eye drops are a general use item, but very handy for environmental irritants or general sore eyes. Our vet recommended them a while back that we keep some on hand, and we have been grateful for it ever since.
You may notice that there are no collars or leads, which are a staple on most pet first aid kit lists. They’d be bulky extras for a home first-aid kit. We usually keep those things near the door so they are always easy to grab on the way out, if needed. Plus, we have extras in our distaster kits and in a small emergency go-bag (see below), which we keep ready to roll in the trunk of the car.
DIY Home First Aid Kit Storage
Our home kit is a big red box with a smaller red box inside for pet extras, and I DIYed a few simple stickers using free Pixabay graphics for the labels to pretty things up. I have a copy of our Pet Emergency Information Sheets and a small pet first aid booklet tucked under the lid. I have a copy of these essential information sheets on my mobile phone, and backed up remotely as well.
DIY Vehicle Pet Emergency Supply Bag
Our cars have standard vehicle first aid and emergency kits. We also have a small bag in the boot with towels, blankets, collapsible drinking bowl, extra collars, leashes, and poo bags. It’s always best to be prepared. Although we hope it’s more often used for impromptu picnics, dry-offs from unplanned swimming expeditions, and rainstorms than real emergencies! It’s great to have a fully stocked distaster kit or go-bags at home for emergencies or evactuations, but you might not be at home or able to access it when disaster strikes. Multiple options are good for spreading out the likelihood of accessing key supplies.