What Should Be In My Pet First-Aid Kit?

Owner gently wraps gauze around fluffy brown dog’s leg

Being a pet parent means being prepared for the unexpected. Taking pre-emptive measures—such as ensuring your pet is microchipped (opens new window) or enrolling in a pet insurance plan—can give you peace of mind when it comes to your four-legged friend.

It’s equally as important to be prepared in case an emergency occurs in your home. Just as you keep a first-aid kit handy in case you get injured, you should also keep a pet first-aid kit on hand.

You can buy a premade kit from various retailers or assemble one yourself. And remember: if your pet is sick or injured beyond your care capabilities, you should take them to see a veterinarian right away.

First Things First: Can I Treat My Pet at Home?

In the event you cannot get your pet to a veterinarian in a safe or timely manner, you will need to be prepared to treat them at home. If you are a new pet parent—or even if you have been with your four-legged friend for years—you may be unsure how to properly wrap wounds, administer medications, or apply bandages—which is why you should know basic first-aid for pets . (opens new window)

Consider taking a first aid class in person or sign-up for an online course. (open new window) You can also read first-aid guidebooks to help you be ready in case you need to treat your pet at home.

A Box or Bag for Your Kit

All your pet first-aid kit items should be stored together for easy access. Nearly any type of container is suitable. We recommend a plastic shoebox-sized container with a lid—even a standard cardboard shoebox will work.

You can use a five-gallon zipper freezer bag, a small backpack, a bucket, or a large cosmetic bag. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you use to contain all the items in your dog or cat’s first-aid kit, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a specialty box or bag. What’s inside is much more important.

Written Information for Your Pet First-Aid Kit

If your pet ever has a medical emergency, you may be too emotional or stressed to remember basic information. That’s why your kit should contain a piece of paper with key information.

Gauze and Bandages

Yes, gauze is safe for pets and ideal for covering wounds. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends including gauze and non-stick bandages in pet first-aid kits. Towels or strips of clean cloth also can be used as bandages.

You’ll need medical adhesive tape to secure both. The AVMA advises against using human-grade adhesive bandages on pets.

To trim gauze, adhesive tape, and non-stick bandages to size, you’ll need a small pair of scissors.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Other Medications

A basic pet first-aid kit needs certain medications in it, including hydrogen peroxide, milk of magnesia, and activated charcoal.

Is hydrogen peroxide safe for pets? The answer is yes, but only a specific formulation. The AVMA (open new windows) recommends keeping a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide in your pet first-aid kit to induce vomiting if your pet has consumed something poisonous or something that will not pass through their digestive tract. It’s imperative that it is only this formulation, as any other percentage is not safe for pets.

You’ll also need a bottle of milk of magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb the poison.

Always call your veterinarian or the animal poison control hotline before you attempt to treat your pet for accidental poisoning or induce vomiting. They will advise whether you should treat your pet yourself—and recommend the dosage you should give—or seek professional help.

Digital Thermometer

Keep a digital thermometer in your first-aid kit to check your pet’s temperature. Dogs and cats must have their temperature taken rectally, never orally.

To get a proper temperature reading, you’ll need a “fever” thermometer because a regular one may not register a temperature high enough for pets. You may want to choose one with a flexible tip, which will be more comfortable for your pet.

A dog’s average temperature should be between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. A cat’s average temperature should be between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Handy Tools

Tweezers, a flashlight, an eyedropper, a bath-sized towel, a small magnifying glass, and syringes are all useful items for a pet first-aid kit.

A magnifying glass can help to magnify cuts, wounds, and more, while tweezers can be used to remove splinters, ticks, or other pests from your pet’s paws and fur.

Syringes and eyedroppers can be used to measure and administer medications or to rinse open wounds.

The large towel can soak up bodily fluids, securely wrap your dog or cat up, or provide extra warmth to help prevent shock.

Safety Items in Your Pet First-Aid Kit

It’s smart to include a muzzle, plus a spare collar and leash in your dog or cat’s first-aid kit.

A properly-fitting muzzle helps protect you as you treat your pet’s wounds. In a pinch, gauze wrap can be used to create a temporary muzzle.

A spare leash or collar can help keep your pet secure in an emergency, especially if they’ve slipped their collar. If you need to conserve space in your kit, a slip lead serves as both.

And finally, a pet stretcher can help you stabilize an injured pet and move them safely without causing further injury. An extra floor mat can be stowed alongside your kit, but any sturdy surface nearby can be used to stabilize your pet while you administer first aid.

Always Seek Professional Care for Your Pet

After administering first aid, it’s important that your pet receive immediate follow-up care from your veterinarian or an emergency vet. Basic pet first aid is never a substitute for professional care, although it can help save your pet’s life until they can be seen by a veterinarian.

Pet First-Aid Kit Checklist

What should a pet first-aid kit contain? Print out this handy shopping list and take it with you as you shop for items for a first-aid kit for your pet.

Now Is the Perfect Time to Think About Pet Insurance

Before your pet is sick or injured is the perfect time to get a pet insurance policy from a provider like the 24Petprotect™ program.

Opt for Complete CoverageSM, which includes accidents, illnesses, behavioral issues, genetic conditions, dental disease, and more. To make your policy coverage go further, consider a preventive care add-on available for an additional cost. For a more affordable coverage option, choose an accident-only plan. Only you can decide which is best for your pet and your lifestyle, but the 24Petprotect™ program is here when you need it. Find the right policy for you and your four-legged friend today by getting a quote online.

The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.