Being Red Cross Ready for your Pet: Making a First Aid Kit for your Dog or Cat

By  Tonya Solis-Mosby, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

On a sunny, blue skyed day there are few greater places to be than outside with your pet. However, for many of us who took shelter in last week’s tornado outbreak, our furry friends were also bunkered by our sides, proving their loyalty in good times and more uncertain ones. We’ve urged you before to remember to keep your family safe by preparing a disaster safety kit. Why not spread the love to all members of your family by including a Pet First Aid Kit in your safety pack?

In case of pet injuries or life-threatening accidents, are you prepared?
One of the first things to remember is, just as with people, the first few minutes after a catastrophe could mean the difference between life and death for a dog or cat. Pet owners should remember pet first aid is only the temporary leading to an immediate veterinary visit.

To get through those emergencies, pet owners should be equipped with a pet first aid kit. If you don’t have one packed, here are just a few items that might help in case of injuries:

1) A pair of gloves to help prevent the spread of germs (person-to-pet and pet-to-person).

2) Gauze for wrapping wounds or to muzzle an injured pet.

3) Nonstick bandages, towels or strips of clean cloth to control bleeding or to protect wounds.

4) Adhesive tape to secure the gauze wrap or bandage. Human adhesive bandages such as Band-Aids should not be used on pets.

In case of poisoning, pet owners might also add the following to the pet first aid kit:

1) Milk of magnesia/activated charcoal to absorb the poison.

2) Hydrogen peroxide (3%) to induce vomit (A very important reminder: contact a veterinarian or poison control before inducing vomiting).

Other items to include in your pet’s first aid kit:

1) A digital thermometer to check your pet’s temperature (rectally only).

2) An eyedropper or a large syringe (without a needle) to give oral treatments or to flush wounds.

3) A muzzle to prevent biting. (Remember to never muzzle a vomiting pet!)

4) A leash for easy transport.

5) A stretcher (can be made of a board, blanket or floor mat) to stabilize an injured pet.

While a pet first aid kit is great to have on hand, knowing exactly what to do for your pet in case of injury or poisoning can also be helpful. Tips on caring for your pet in times of crises can also be found in two publications of the American Red Cross – Dog First Aid by Red Cross Ready and Cat First Aid by Red Cross Ready can be purchased online here.
Be Red Cross Ready to save your pets in times of injury, poisoning or disaster! Have a plan and a kit. More information can be obtained from

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