One of the most frightening experiences of being a pet owner is having a medical emergency involving your four-legged family member. Emergencies can range from a case of intestinal upset to life-threatening trauma situations. Some simple advance preparation now can make all the difference in the event of an actual pet emergency.
First and foremost, it is important to have an established relationship with a local veterinarian. You should know the clinic’s hours and phone number and the protocols to use in case of an emergency after business hours. Be sure to have the emergency number for the on-call veterinarian or know the name, address and phone number of the local vet emergency hospital. This last point is particularly important when you travel with your pet in an area that is unfamiliar to you.
Next, keep an up-to-date copy of your pet’s vaccination records, current lab work and a list of ALL medications, including heartworm and topical flea/tick prevention. A list of current illnesses or recurrent conditions, and the specific medication used to treat those conditions, is also extremely helpful in an emergency. For example, medications routinely prescribed for animals with osteoarthritis can cause serious side effects if accidently combined with other medications during an emergency.
Finally, a first aid kit can be invaluable to have both in your home and in your vehicle when traveling with your pet. There are many pre-assembled kits available online, but it is easy to make your own! Below is a list of suggested contents for a well-stocked pet first aid kit. Your veterinarian may also have some excellent ideas to personalize a first aid kit specifically for your pets.
Pet First Aid Kit Supplies Should Include:
- Business cards of your local veterinary hospital and emergency clinic.
- Vaccination records and list of medications.
- A muzzle or a pair of old panty hose to use as a muzzle. (Even your own pet may try to bite you when in pain or frightened.)
- A blanket or towel large enough to safely cover and/or pick up your pet. (Covering a pet’s head and face can be very comforting, as well as help prevent you from getting injured transporting your pet.)
- Benadryl (generic diphenhydramine). Call your vet and get an appropriate dose for your pet. Benadryl can be life saving in the rare incidences of anaphylactic allergic reactions to pharmaceuticals or even insect stings.
- Saline eye flush in case of a suspected eye injury or foreign body. Please consult your vet ASAP with eye injuries as trauma to the eye can progress very rapidly into a serious situation.
- Gauze pads and bandaging material. ACE bandages work well to wrap a limb temporarily.
- Triple antibiotic ointment for minor wounds. (Do not use in the eyes!)
- Antiseptic wash to gently flush wounds.
- Blunt tip scissors
- Exam gloves to protect your hands!
- “Instant” cold packs for sprains and strains.
- Slip leash. (Ask your vet for one.) Good to carry an extra one in your car at all times.)
- Dawn dishwashing detergent can be safely used to wash off most insecticides and most petroleum-based toxicants.
- A few extra doses of any long-term medications your pets are taking.
You can’t always prevent emergencies, but you can be prepared for them. Taking the proper steps now can provide extra peace of mind for you and could make a crucial difference if your pet is ever in an emergency situation.
Originally published February 2015 in the Lake Norman Citizen