Natural disasters and accidents affect our pets, too. Preparing ahead and being organized will help you deal with a mishap while maintaining a cool head.
A Pet First Aid Kit is the best way to start preparing. This will have essential first aid items on hand, and you can keep it at your family hub. Items to include are:
- Bandages can be made from gauze, clean rags, or clean socks. Keep medical tape, duct tape, or vet wrap with the bandage material to hold them in place.
- Scissors will allow you to cut bandage material, tape, or even fur. They also certainly come in handy if your pet gets plastic, wire, or anything else that get wrapped around your pet.
- Sterile saline eye wash – the same you have for yourself – should be in the kit in case you need to wash smoke or debris from your pet’s eyes.
- A gallon of water (several of which you should have on hand for yourself) is an essential part of the kit. In addition to providing fresh drinking water, you can use it to flush wounds.
- If your pet has regular medications, keep them close to the kit so you can toss them in and go if need be. Talk to your veterinarian to find out whether or not it’s appropriate to keep sugar pills or an antihistamine on hand (many medications, such as antihistamines are normally safe for dogs but can prove lethal to cats).
- Hydrogen peroxide is a good solution to keep in the kit for wound cleansing. Styptic powder, cinnamon, and baking soda can all be packed into small wounds to stop bleeding.
- Dish soap – yes, that dish soap – is used to remove toxins or oils from your pet’s fur. Be sure to rinse thoroughly!
- A thermometer specifically for your pet – no sharing! The normal temperature for dogs and cats runs in the neighborhood of 99.5-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
- A list of emergency numbers, including your veterinarian and a poison control hotline (discussed below) are crucial.
- Blankets, towels, slip leashes, and muzzles can be used to restrain a frightened pet.
- A week’s supply of pet food.
- Last, but not least in your pet’s eyes are the treats! They can be great distractions when you’re attempting to administer first aid.
While you’re gathering items for your Pet First Aid Kit, download the Pet First Aid App from the American Red Cross. If you learn better in more of a classroom-type setting, talk to your vet about offering a course to their clients, or check with your local humane society or community college about courses.
If your pet isn’t already microchipped, have it done! The chip itself is about the size of a grain of rice, and the vet can either insert it during a regular appointment or while your pet is under anesthesia for a procedure such as a dental, spay, or neuter. Today, almost every veterinary hospital and humane society has a microchip reader on hand, and if your pet gets loose – especially if they slip their collar and tags – this is your best chance to be reunited quickly.
Did you know that pet toxicology is a specialty and that most veterinarians in general practice do not have expert knowledge on the subject? Keep the number for Pet Poison Helpline handy – 855-764-7661. There is a fee per incident, but at $49 it’s less than many other pet poison hotlines and you get the same expert service. The ASPCA has some excellent articles and podcasts that you can use to educate yourself about what household items and foods are toxic to pets.
By following the steps outlined above, you’ll be ready for just about any accident that comes your pet’s way!
PS Getting sprayed by a skunk may not be an health emergency, but it certainly is unpleasant and it’s one of the most common calls received by veterinary offices and humane societies. Here’s an “odor-blasting formula” that works!