Spring is a great time to brush up on pet first aid basics, and create or replenish a pet first aid kit. Warmer spring days outside can lead to bug bites, minor cuts, or contact with spring-time hazards in the home and around the yard. Knowing pet first aid basics and creating a pet first aid kit could help stabilize your pet until professional veterinary care is provided.
Springtime pet safety tips
- Easter baskets and candy – Keep the chocolates, candies, and faux grass out of reach. Chocolate and artificial sweeteners can be toxic, and candies and faux grass can be choking hazards.
- Cleaning products – With heightened disinfecting efforts for the coronavirus, flus, and overall spring cleaning, be sure these products are stored properly and spills are wiped up immediately. Use pet-friendly cleaning products when possible.
- Anti-freeze – Store or dispose of properly. Clean any spills or spots that a pet could lick. Pets are attracted to the sweet taste but it is highly toxic if ingested.
- Plants – Be sure flowers you bring in the house or plants you choose for outdoor gardens are not poisonous to dogs and cats. Click for a listing of plants that are toxic and non-toxic to pets.
- Sticks –Offering your dog safe toys to chew on and play with are better. Sticks can be a choking hazard or sharp ends can cause cuts and scrapes.
Creating a pet first aid kit
It’s easy to assemble your own pet first aid kit with items available from a pharmacy, grocery store or superstore retailer. Fill a tote bag, plastic container or pet carrier with the following items for convenient transportation between home and car: (If any items are currently out-of-stock or on back order, just leave yourself a note to add to your kit when available.)
- Absorbent gauze pads, gauze roll and cotton balls
- Adhesive tape
- Antiseptic wipes or spray
- Small blanket, towel and/or pillowcase (to confine a cat for treatment)
- Instant cold packs
- Blunt-end scissors, tweezers and nail clipper
- Sterile saline solution
- OTC antibiotic ointment
- Splints or tongue depressors
- Expired/sample credit card (to scrape away insect stingers)
- Plastic eyedropper or syringe
Additional supplies, including items for travel
- Extra harness and leash
- Pet carrier and blanket
- Gallon/bottled of water and wet/dry food (watch expiration dates and refresh supplies as needed)
- Portable food/water dish
- Disposable litter, tray and extra portable waste bags or garbage bags
Handling common first aid
Bites and Cuts: Wash out the wound with cool water and apply absorbent gauze with light pressure to stop the bleeding. Cover and wrap lightly with gauze roll. Call your veterinarian if the bleeding doesn’t stop or the wound is deeper than a surface scrape to determine of if further treatment is necessary. For severe bleeding, apply pressure to the wound and seek medical attention immediately. Apply a tourniquet if necessary.
Bee Sting: Remove the stinger with the edge of a plastic card or tweezer and apply an instant cold pack. Call the veterinarian if there’s increased swelling or an adverse reaction like difficulty breathing or vomiting.
Accidental Poisoning: Call pet poison control or your emergency veterinary hospital immediately. If you know what the animal ingested, keep the item/container/label on hand so you can provide the veterinary professional with as much information as possible.
Burns: Flush the area with a lot of water and, if available, apply an ice water compress to the burn. Seek immediate veterinary care.
Heatstroke: Remove the pet from the situation to a cooler, shaded area. Never leave your pet in a vehicle on warm days—even with the windows cracked open—or confined to a space located in direct sunlight with no access to water or shade. The temperature inside the vehicle can rise quickly. Place cold, wet towels on the body or rinse with cool water to help lower the body temperature. Do not cover the animal’s face/nose. Seek immediate medical attention.
Whether it’s in your wallet or on your smartphone, be sure to have this information readily available:
- Phone number of your veterinary practice
- Phone number of an emergency hospital/clinic
- ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435
- Online access to your veterinary practice with login to a pet portal for your pet’s health information