First Aid for the Pet
of the species kept as a pet, all owners should have some basics
on hand for minor emergencies and maladies. Here is a list of such
handy items, along with some tips on how to use them. You will find
that first aid for animals is essentially the same as that for people,
and the biggest key is to stay calm and exercise your common sense.
When in doubt, call the doctor. That�s what we are here for.
- Most importantly, have the following information on
hand near the telephone: your regular veterinarian�s
phone number, the poison control hotline, the phone number, hours,
and location of the nearest emergency clinic.
- Basic bandage material such as gauze, gauze
pads, bandage tape, and maxi pads (I know it sounds strange but
they are perfect to tape over a medium to large wound to keep
it clean and absorb blood on the way to the hospital).
- Hydrogen peroxide for wound and ear cleaning.
This is also given orally when the animal has eaten something
it shouldn�t in the last 2 hours. It will make the animal vomit
the stuff back up, so it can only be used if the item eaten is
not a caustic chemical, and is still in the stomach. The best
scenario is to call your regular veterinarian immediately when
you find your pet has eaten anything inappropriate. Then he or
she can tell you if the peroxide is applicable to your situation
and how much to give depending on the species and size of the
- Triple antibiotic ointment to be used on minor
cuts and scrapes that do not require medical attention.
- Pliers, both needle nose and regular. These
are good for thorns, stickers, splinters, tick removal, cactus
needles and porcupine quills. Do not attempt to remove fishhooks
at home, as the barbs may not readily come out and more harm may
- Styptic sticks or powder. The brand name at
pet stores is Kwik-Stop. One of the most common minor injuries
in dogs is a torn claw that is bleeding and painful. The claw
needs to be quickly cut with nail clippers at the tear, and the
end packed with the styptic.
- Thermometer. This should be a rectal thermometer
that is, of course, reserved for pet use only. Ear thermometers
for humans are inaccurate in pets. Take your pet�s temperature
whenever you are worried they are ill. Often, the stress of a
visit to the animal hospital will cause a pet�s temperature to
rise and it is hard to tell if they really have a fever. This
additional information will help your veterinarian to pinpoint
the diagnosis and severity of illness.
- Benedryl. Pediatric liquid for small pets,
and regular tablets for medium and large dogs. If your pet is
having an allergic reaction to a bite or sting, your veterinarian
may have you dose the animal at home instead of coming to the
hospital. Antihistamines are much more effective if given right
away, and may be a significant help in easing respiratory distress
if given before traveling to the hospital.
or Pepto Bismol. Use this as you would for yourself —
to ease the discomfort of intestinal cramps and diarrhea caused
by eating something inappropriate. You should not use it in all
cases of vomiting and diarrhea, as you are only masking the symptoms
and not addressing the primary problem. It is also important to
let the doctor know if you have given your pet these products,
as they change some characteristics of the stool that may influence
the diagnosis of the animal�s illness.