Pet First Aid Kit
Gearing up for a road trip down the coast or just heading to the beach for the day? Always be prepared with a custom First Aid Kit for your furry friend. An old Snoopy lunch box, or any durable, preferably waterproof, case will do. The following are the basics for a standard kit. Keep in mind not everything that works on humans is suitable for pets and never administer human drugs or prescriptions to your pet without first checking with your vet.
1. A pet first aid book. We like The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats (Ayour D. Shojai, Rodale, 2001). It’s a little hefty but it covers everything from allergic reactions to removing wax from fur.
2. Latex gloves
3. Emergency contact numbers. The digits for your vet, the closest animal emergency hospital, and the poison control hotline.
4. Tweezers (flat slant tip) and Scissors (dull ended). Avoid pointed ends lest you do more damage than good.
5. Special tweezers for tick removal. These are designed to remove the imbedded head, which, if left in, can lead to infection.
6. Cotton balls
7. Gauze Pads, Squares and Roll. For wounds—sticky bandages don’t work so well on fur.
8. Disinfectant, such as Hibitane.
9. Wound cream. To speed healing and minimize scarring try a product such as CanineAid, a soothing cream that eases discomfort and can be used on cuts, wounds, and irritations. (epicareltd.com)
10. Saline solution. Can be used to clean wounds or flush sand out of eyes. Contact solution will work in a pinch.
11. Antihistamine. May be used to calm itchiness, swelling, and hives caused by bee stings or insect bites but, as with any medication, please consult a vet first as dosage will vary depending on your pet’s size.
12. Hydrogen Peroxide. While this is not recommended to clean wounds, it can be used to induce vomiting in case of accidental ingestion. Check with your vet before administering; in some circumstances vomiting may not be encouraged.
13. Bulb Syringe or Small Turkey Baster. Use to flush wounds or eyes or for administering medicine.
14. Antibacterial Wipes or skin soap.
15. Skin & Paw Cream. I love Bag Balm—it works on your feet as well as pet’s! (bagbalm.com)
16. Rectal Thermometer. A pet’s average temperature is 38°C or 101°F.
17. Petroleum Jelly. For use with the above. Just trying to be considerate.
It’s also useful to have an old blanket and some towels with you when traveling, as well as a second lead, some extra pet food, a flashlight, and matches. I’m the kind of girl who knows where all the exits are, as well as the lifejacket-to-passenger ratio, so this list could go on, but the above basics should have you covered until you can seek professional medical assistance.
CPR for Cats & Dogs
Probably one of the most important things you can do after SAFETY is to make sure your dog or cat is breathing. To do this, you want to gently tap your dog or cat and call out his or her name to see if there is any movement. Then (being careful not to get bitten or scratched) lean down close and LOOK, LISTEN AND FEEL for breathing.
LOOK: at the chest of the animal to see if its moving. LISTEN: to see if you can hear them breathing. FEEL: on your cheek or back of your hand for a breath.
If your dog or cat is not breathing, pull their tongue just a little bit, close the mouth and tilt their head just a little to open their Airway. Give them 4-5 breaths from your (guess what?) mouth to their nose! This is "Mouth-to-Snout Resuscitation." You'll want to give them just enough air to make the chest rise. Big dogs need more— little dogs or cats much less. Remember not to give too much air! You don't want to hurt them.
This means you're checking to see if their heart is working okay. To do that you must check for a heart beat—the pulse. There are pulse points located in various areas on your dog or cat. For a dog the best place to find the pulse is on the inside of the rear leg, towards the top of the leg. This is called the Femoral Pulse. For a cat the best place to find the pulse is on the outside of the left front leg, just behind the shoulder. This is called an Apical Pulse.
Rescue Breathing is when you have to breath for your dog or cat because they are not breathing on their own. You do this when your dog or cat has a pulse but is not breathing.
First do your ABCs: don't forget to LOOK, LISTEN, and FEEL for breathing.
If not breathing, give 4-5 breaths using Mouth-to-Snout Resuscitation (see Breathing, above).
Check for pulse on the Femoral Artery for dogs or check the Apical Pulse for cats or really small dogs.
If there is a pulse, but no breathing start Mouth-to-Snout Resuscitation giving 1 breath every 3 seconds. For cats or really small dogs, give 1 breath every 2 seconds.
CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation)
CPR: First do your ABCs—don't forget to LOOK, LISTEN, and FEEL for breathing. CPR can only be performed if your dog or cat is not breathing and has no pulse. Follow Steps 1, 2, 3, above, just as in Rescue Breathing. If there is no Pulse, start CPR (step 4, below).
Place the dog on the ground or other hard surface with its right side down. Take its left front leg and bend at the elbow, rotating at the shoulder. The point where the elbow of the dog touches the body is where you place your hands for compressions. Put one hand on top of the other and clasp your fingers together. Lock your elbows and start performing compressions. Push approximately 2-3 inches deep on a large or giant dog. After 1 minute check for a pulse. Repeat if there is no response.
Giant Dogs = Give 1 breath every 10 compressions. Medium to Large Dogs = Give 1 breath every 5 compressions. Small Dogs = Give 1 breath every 5 compressions.
CATS or Really Small Dogs
Place the animal flat on the ground. Then put your hands on either side of the animal's chest, right behind the shoulder blades with your palms over the heart (sandwiching the animal's chest between both hands). Compress approximately 1/2 to 1 inch deep. After 1 minute, check for a pulse again. Cats or Really Small Dogs = Give 1 breath every 3 compressions.
PLEASE take a class from a qualified instructor. In the meantime, study the instructions above so you are more knowledgeable and prepared to assist in an emergency. Print a copy to keep in your Roadside Rescue Kit.