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"Be prepared" is good advice especially if there is an
emergency. To be better prepared in a pet emergency, a pet first
aid kit is beneficial.
"The biggest advantage for having a pet first aid kit would be
so that you can concentrate on what you can do for your pet
constructively rather than looking all over the place for something
that might 'work' but is less than ideal," notes Dr. James Barr,
clinical assistant professor, Texas A&M University, College of
"The preparation of a pet emergency kit will allow you to
mentally prepare for a problem," says Barr. "A waterproof plastic
bin is the perfect container as it will keep the items in it from
being ruined so that they will be available in an emergency."
Barr explains that ideally pet first aid kits should be kept at
home and in your car. Then you can help your pets in case they are
injured at home or one that might have been injured in the street.
He notes that one of the most common injuries of pets is being hit
by a car.
"There are commercial first aid kits available for pets," Barr
notes, "and some of the essentials would include: cohesive
bandage/ACE bandage, assortment of bandages, burn gel, instant cold
pack, emergency blanket, gauze pads, roll gauze, medical vinyl
gloves, hydrogen peroxide, triple antibiotic packets, alcohol
wipes, antiseptic wipes, slip-style leash, lubricating jelly,
safety pins, bandage scissors, one-inch adhesive tape, tongue
depressors, tweezers/forceps, and hand cleaning wipes."
He suggests that a deluxe pet first aid kit would also include
sterile eye/skin wash, sterile gauze pads, roll conforming gauze,
10 ml and 30 ml oral syringes, cotton swabs/applicators, digital
thermometer, tick remover, and sting relief wipes.
"Be sure to include the phone numbers for your local
veterinarian and emergency hospital that is open after hours in
your area," Barr says. "Additionally, the Animal Poison Control
Center is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at (888)
"First aid is not a substitute for veterinary care," Barr
stresses. "First aid implies there is at least second aid and the
second aid should be your veterinarian."
Depending on the emergency situation, a restraint may need to be
used when working with an injured pet. "One must be very careful
with injured pets because they are unable to communicate with us
and us with them, they are often afraid. That fear is translated
into aggression and pets can injure even the best meaning bystander
because they are in pain," explains Barr.
He notes that you should not try to restrain the pet at all, if
possible, but in times of respiratory distress (difficulty
breathing) it becomes critical that the pet not be stressed.
Holding pets sometimes creates more stress. This should be balanced
with the recognition that the pet be prevented from harming
"A pet with spinal injuries needs to be restrained much the same
way that a person should be restrained after what is suspected to
be spinal trauma," Barr states. He notes that instead of being on
their back, it is helpful to have the pet on its side, taped to a
rigid board so that its head and legs cannot move around.
In cases of poisoning, Barr explains that choosing to cause the
pet to vomit the offending poison should not be standard procedure
to treating poisoning of a cat. There are circumstances when this
is a bad decision. You should always contact your local
veterinarian or the pet poison hotline for instructions.
Barr says that if you, as a pet caregiver, are tempted to
dispense human medicines to your cat or dog you need to know that
any product containing acetomenophin should never be given to a
cat. It is poisonous to them. Most of the over counter pain
relievers, especially ibuprofen and naproxen, should not be used in
dogs as they are very irritating to the stomach. Please, call your
veterinarian with any medication questions.
Pet medical emergencies can be trying times, but with prior
preparation, the situation can be less stressful.
ABOUT PET TALK
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine &
Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be
viewed on the Web at http://tamunews.tamu.edu.
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