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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

Pet First Aid Kits: Building One May Save Your Companion

Feb 01, 2019 01:23PM ● By Mary Oquendo

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, 25 percent more pets could have been saved from an accident if only one pet first aid technique was applied prior to veterinary treatment. A home pet first aid kit is vital to that end, but it turns out that many homes with pets don’t have one prepared. A suggested list includes:

• Activated charcoal to absorb ingested poisons. However, any item intended to counteract poisoning should not be used unless directed by a veterinarian. Protocols vary and what will help in one instance can cause harm in another.

• Antibiotic cream for wounds. Don’t use triple antibiotic if you have cats. While it is rare, the combination of the three ingredients may cause a fatal reaction in some cats. In addition, avoid any products with essential oils with cats as they cannot metabolize most oils. 

• Antihistamine and safety pin for minor allergic reactions. Specifically look for diphenhydramine gels with a liquid center. The safety pin is used to puncture the gel cap and squirt the liquid directly onto the tongue of the pet. This is the fastest way for an anaphylactic pet to absorb the antihistamine. Consult a veterinarian for proper dosing. Antihistamines cannot be safely used with all pets as it may interfere with other medications or medical conditions. 

• Apps for smart phones. A recommended one is the ASPCA’s Pet Poison app. It’s free and will dial the number for the Pet Poison Hotline. As minutes matter in a poisoning situation, this is invaluable if you cannot reach a local veterinarian for instructions. The second is a veterinarian locator. This is useful if you are on vacation with your pet and need to find the closest veterinarian.

• Baking soda to absorb topical poisons or chemicals.

• Bandanas as they can replace triangular bandages. They can also serve as slings to take the weight off an injured limb.

• Eyewash serves double duty. It can be used to flush out both eyes and wounds. 

• Gauze comes in three varieties: gauze roll, gauze pads and nonstick gauze pads. The gauze roll is wider and is good for larger wounds. The nonstick gauze is more expensive, but should be used on top of the wound; then place the cheaper gauze on top of it. Nonstick gauze will not remove the scab when it is time to replace the bandaging.

• Honey packets for hypoglycemic pets. Use this only under advice of veterinarian.  

• Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in a dog. As this is used for poisoning, consult a veterinarian first. Dosage will vary. Vomiting is not automatic for poisoning. If the ingested substance is caustic, it will burn the throat on its way out. You cannot use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in cats. Cats cannot metabolize hydrogen peroxide. 

ª Liquid bandage. It is an asset if you know how to use it properly. Used incorrectly, it can damage surrounding tissue, as well as trap bacteria in the wound. Your veterinarian can instruct you in proper usage. Do not use superglue. It is not manufactured for medical use and, as such, the manufacturer can change ingredients and formulation without consideration for safety on wounds. 

• Muzzles are a must. If you need to use your pet first aid kit, this pet is likely in pain. Any pet in pain is a bite risk, even one you know well.

• Plastic baggies to collect a vomit or fecal sample. This may be necessary if the pet has been poisoned and you are unsure of what was ingested. When not in use, it can store smaller items for easy accessibility. 

• Rubber gloves to protect you from any zoonotic, and also to collect vomit or fecal samples.

• Sanitary napkins to absorb blood.

• Squirt bottle to deliver hydrogen peroxide down the throat of a dog. 

• Styptic powder for use on nails only. It stings and this pet is already in pain. In addition, styptic powder is not sterile; you may introduce bacteria into the wound. There are newer products on the market that function as a styptic powder and can be used for wounds as well.

• Tea bags contain tannic acid and are effective in stopping bleeding. While sugar is effective, it is not recommended because the pet may be diabetic or pre-diabetic. 

• Vet wrap keeps the wound secure and dry. It is also expensive. The human counterpart, which is the exact same thing, is a fraction of the cost.

• Wound cleanser. You have several options in this case. The first is sterile saline solution, also known as eyewash. The second is a chlorohexidine-based cleanser, which is easy to find. Most stores that sell first aid items will carry it. Do not use hydrogen peroxide as it degrades surrounding tissue and cats cannot metabolize it. Do not use alcohol as it stings. Do not use sterile, tap or bottled water; it disrupts the salt balance of the cells and slows healing.

Many of these items have expiration dates and should be checked periodically.

When wounds are treated quickly, they heal faster with less pain. Your pet will thank you for that.

Mary Oquendo is a Reiki Master, advanced crystal master and certified master tech pet first aid instructor. She is the owner of Pawsitive Education. Connect at See ad, page 105.