My Calc III professor liked to say, “The more you know, the better off you’ll be.” I have found this to indeed be very true (and ironic, since I haven’t used calculus in 50 years). Pet owners and sitters that are knowledgeable in pet first aid and CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) are definitely going to be better off, and hopefully, like calculus, you will never need to use it.
Both the Red Cross and Pet Tech have courses that include basic pet care, checking vital signs, preventative care, and critical care for breathing and cardiac emergencies, wounds, bleeding, and seizures. Course cost is going to vary depending on where you go, but the average fee is around $50.
Pet Tech is where I received my pet first aid and CPR training and I highly recommend their PetSaver program. Both the Red Cross and Pet Tech provide certification cards, and useful reference materials so you can regularly brush up on your knowledge of first aid (and arbitrate those persistent arguments at the dog park).
Pet first aid kits are available at many online stores like Chewy, Amazon, or Orvis, and cost between $30-$80.
Brand names for the top-rated pet first aid kits include: Thrive, RC Pet Products, PushOn, Fab Fur Gear, and Tactical Freedom.
A good first aid kit will include the supplies described below. In addition to supplies, be sure to keep a list of phone numbers that includes the regular vet, emergency vet, animal control, animal poison control, and your client.
Pet First Aid Kit – Supplies (frequently used):
Tick remover tool – to reduce damage or infection during removal.
Styptic powder, or similar – to stop bleeding (nicked ears).
Antiseptic wash or wipes – non-stinging preparations such as chlorhexidine or betadine (rubbing alcohol is not ideal).
Antibiotic ointment – over-the-counter ointment for minor skin wounds.
Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) – for stings and allergic reactions but speak with your veterinarian about proper dosing.
Pet First Aid Kit – Supplies:
Vet Wrap – a conforming bandage wrap used over a telfa (gauze) pad or roll gauze that comes in many colors and two sizes (2″ and 4″). It clings to itself and is semi-watertight. DO NOT wrap this too tight. It is best to unwrap it from the roll, then use it for the bandage with very light tension.
QuikClot – a hemostatic gauze, which acts on contact to quickly stop bleeding. The gauze is impregnated with kaolin, a mineral that accelerates the natural clotting process.
Bandage Scissors – scissors with a blunted blade to easily slip between skin and bandage material and not cut the skin.
Vet-prescribed pain relief or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) – speak to your veterinarian about obtaining first aid kit pain relief. Do not use human prescription or over-the-counter pain medications for pets. Some medications, like Tylenol, may be fatal to pets.
Ice and hot packs – cool down skin after a burn or keep an animal warm if hypothermic. Use a cloth between the pack and skin and check frequently for redness or irritation.
Extra towels, wash cloths, and a blanket – use for washing, keeping warm or cool, or a way to transport the injured pet.
Toenail trimmer and styptic pencil – for torn toenails. Cornstarch also works for torn nails, but not for skin wounds.
Scissors – for cutting out things matted in fur.
Sterile eye wash – make sure it is eye wash, not contact lens solution.
Syringe or large eye dropper – to flush wounds or administer fluids by mouth.
Tweezers – to remove splinters, or other foreign materials from wounds.
Tape – white medical tape (1-inch) is easy to tear off and holds well.
Roll Gauze – for bandaging, to stop bleeding, and padding for splints.
Telfa pads – non-stick dressings for bandaging a wound.
Latex or plastic exam gloves – for your protection and your pet’s protection.
Muzzle – even well-trained animals may bite when injured or afraid.
Thermometer – know normal dog and cat vital signs and how to use this.
Water-based lubricating jelly – for use with rectal thermometers.
Ear wash – speak to your veterinarian about which one would be best for your pet.
Featured photo – Genevieve inspecting a stag beetle with remarkable mandibles.