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Pet First Aid Essentials

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Anyone who loves animals will understand the pain of seeing an animal in distress. If that animal is your pet, the pain is many times greater. Injuries, illness and emergencies do occur especially with very active pets like dogs. Very often it takes time to take your pet to the vet and knowing how to provide first aid can give relief and sometimes even save its life. It is essential to have a good pet first aid kit to deal with such situations.
Situations involving pets where a first aid kit can help:
1-Injuries received while playing or during fights with other animals.
2-Illness.
3-Swallowing objects or toxic materials.
4-Burns from contact with hot objects.
5-Broken bones due to accidents or falls.
6-Snake or insect bites.
Emergency situations arise mostly at home, but if you frequently travel with your pet, it is best to have two first aid kits, one for the car or to take along while traveling and another to keep at home. You can make do with just one kit, but it is better not to risk the possibility of forgetting to take it along or leaving it in a car that is not available when the need arises.
You can buy a pet first aid kit, but it is easy and probably better to put one together yourself. This way you will also know the contents of the kit well and will be able to make better use of it when the situation arises.
Putting together a good pet first aid kit:
Use a plastic or metal box of the right size for your kit. It should be large enough to comfortably store everything while still being portable and easy to use. The following items should ideally be available in the kit:

  • A flashlight and a set of fresh batteries.
  • Materials to treat injuries: Cotton swabs, sterile gauze, strips of clean cloth or nonstick bandages and first aid tape to keep the bandages in place.
  • Paper or cloth towels – Should be clean.
  • Styptic powder: Helps stop bleeding.
  • Alcohol: For rubbing or disinfecting skin.
  • Antiseptic wipes, povidone iodine and antibacterial ointment: For treating wounds and preventing infection.
  • Eye wash.
  • Activated charcoal: This will help reduce the impact if a poisonous material is swallowed. However, this should be used only on the advice of a vet or a poison control center.
  • Hydrogen peroxide solution: This will induce vomiting, which may be needed if a toxic material is swallowed. Again, should be used only on the advice of a vet or poison control center.
  • Rectal thermometer (preferably digital).
  • A syringe without needle or an eye dropper: This will make it easier to give medicine. It can also be used to wash wounds.
  • Muzzle: This may be needed if your pet dog is aggressive, which is often the case when it is injured, frightened or in pain. Don’t use the muzzle if the dog is vomiting.
  • Medicines and medical history: If the vet has already prescribed medicines, it is better to keep a supply in the kit. It is also better to keep a copy of medical history documents if any. You may need this if you have to take the animal to another vet in an emergency or while traveling.
  • Splint: This will be very useful in case of fractures.
  • Spare leash or harness.
  • Use and throw gloves.
  • A bottle of drinking water.
  • A portable stretcher: A foldable rug, mat or board if available can be used as a stretcher in an emergency.
  • Pet first aid quick reference book.
  • Other items: You may find it useful to include some other items like scissors, tweezers, ear cleaner, nail clipper, instant hot pack and ice pack, medicines for shock, benadryl, etc.

Knowing what to do in an emergency is equally important:
Putting together a first aid kit is half the job done, but you must know what to do and how to use it in an actual situation. It is best to take a small course in pet first aid. Many pet hospitals and some other organizations have a short course which you can take. You can also ask your vet for some additional tips.
The courses are usually short and it is just a matter of a couple of days. They are not expensive and the course material may include a book that can be used in emergencies. If you get one, you can keep it in your first aid kit.
There are many similarities between human and pet first aid, and by now you have probably realized that most of the items that you keep in your pet first aid kit are useful for humans as well. Getting a first aid kit for your pet and learning how to use it is a great idea. You will gain confidence in handling pet emergencies and feel more comfortable if you have to travel with your pet.

John is a passionate blogger and works as a first aid training instructor.

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