DIY Pet First Aid Kit - Do You Have What You Need?

DIY Pet First Aid Kit + Bonus Checklist

Although we do our best as pet parents to keep our little furballs safe, inevitably, they’ll still find ways to get a booboo in one way or another. C’est la vie! No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to prevent every injury, but you can do your best to be well prepared to handle emergencies when they arise. 

First of all … do you have a pet first aid kit? You should.

Do you know what goes into a pet first first aid kit? We’ll tell you. In fact, we’ll show you how to compile all the necessary tools, ointments, bandages, and more. Plus, we’ll show you how to make some of this stuff yourself. Who wants to spend money on overpriced products you can make at home? Not us!

OK, let’s do it ...

Pet First Aid Kit Checklist

Here is a list of things to include in your first aid kit. Do you need to have all of these things? Not really. But the more you have, the more prepared you’ll be for any incident. Start with the stuff that’s bolded:

  • canine first-aid manual
  • leash & collar
  • flashlight
  • cold compress
  • soft muzzle
  • gauze
  • cotton balls
  • non-stick bandages
  • self-adhesive tape
  • round-tipped scissors
  • tweezers
  • milk of magnesia
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • needleless syringes
  • saline
  • antibiotic spray/ointment
  • digital thermometer
  • pillbox
  • travel bowls
  • towel
  • blanket
  • epsom salts
  • activated charcoal
  • silver sulfadiazine
  • chlorhexidine spray
  • styptic pencil or powder
  • aloe vera

Fortunately, you can make some of these items at home for a lot less money than buying them retail. 

DIY Pet First Aid Kit Checklist

Download & Print

How To Make a Saline Solution

  1. Boil 2 cups of tap water uncovered for 15 minutes
  2. Allow it to cool to room temperature
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of salt
  4. Stir to dissolve
  5. Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate

Now, you won’t want to make this and keep it in your kit for 6 months. Make it fresh as needed and throw it out after 24 hours. Using fresh saline maximizes the antibacterial properties.

Aloe Vera

You don’t need to buy expensive bottles of aloe vera. You can just as easily slice open a piece of your aloe vera plant for use on burns and minor skin irritations.

How to Treat Minor Pet Injuries at Home

You don’t have to run to the vet every time your fur-baby gets an ouchie. Lots of minor pet injuries are easily treated at home … as long as you’re not dealing with a heavy bleed, deep laceration or severe infection, that is. 

Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before treating any pet injury to minimize the risk of infection.

We also recommend putting a soft muzzle on your pet before touching an injury. Even if he’s sweet as pie, pets can accidentally bite when frightened or in pain. A soft muzzle keeps everyone safe.

Scrapes & scratches

  1. Start by gently wiping the surface with a clean, soft cloth to remove any debris
  2. Pour some saline over the area to help irrigate the skin and wash away bacteria.
  3. Apply a small amount of Neosporin to the scratch (only for dogs)

Note: Cats may have a severe allergic reaction to Neosporin - do not use Neosporin on cats unless specifically advised to do so by your vet.

  1. Place a non-stick bandage over the scratch and wrap with gauze (be careful to wrap just tight enough to stay put without cutting off blood flow)
  2. Call your vet to determine if an onsite exam is necessary

Keep an eye on your pet’s scratch for a few days to be sure there aren’t any signs of infection. If you do suspect infection, call your vet right away.

Burns

  1. With round-tip scissors, carefully clip the hair around the burn
  2. Submerge the affected area in cool water or saline, or use a cloth when that’s not possible
  3. Apply some silver sulfadiazine to prevent bacteria from spreading
  4. Cover the burn with a dry dressing (a non-stick pad and gauze - NO ointment)
  5. Call your vet to determine if an onsite exam is necessary

Minor cuts

  1. Try to determine the cause of the injury. For example, if the cut was caused by glass, you may need to remove it with tweezers
  2. Using a needleless syringe or squeeze bottle, irrigate the wound to flush away any remaining debris and bacteria
  3. Cover the cut with a dry dressing (non-stick pad and gauze)
  4. Continue to clean and redress the wound two or three times daily
  5. Call your vet to determine if an onsite exam is necessary

Bruises

  1. Wrap a cold compress in a towel and apply to the bruise for 10 minutes to reduce swelling
  2. Repeat the process two or three times a day.
  3. Call your vet if you notice any of the following:
  • The bruise is still there after two weeks
  • More bruises are forming
  • Your pet is experiencing pain
  • The size of the bruise is increasing

Sprains

Sometimes your pup gets a little over excited when running or playing, and he can wind up with a sprain. Symptoms of a sprain may include:

  • Limping
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Inability to walk
  • Swelling

If your pet has a sprain, time will do most of the healing. But there are a few things you can do to reduce pain and swelling:

  1. Call your vet to get an xray to be sure nothing is broken
  2. Once you’ve confirmed it’s a sprain, gently apply a towel-wrapped cold compress to the sprain
  3. Minimize activity and encourage him to rest
  4. Continue to apply the cold compress for 10-15 minutes every two hours while he’s awake
  5. Talk to your vet about prescription painkillers or if the injury needs to be immobilized

Sore muscles

If your pet has sore muscles, a soothing epsom salt bath may help:

  1. Add some warm water to the bathtub
  2. Add 1 cup of epsom salt per gallon of water
  3. Gently ease your pet into the tub and let him soak for at least 10 minutes
  4. Rinse, repeat, treats!

Be careful not to let your pet drink the epsom salt water. It has a natural laxative effect and could give him diarrhea.

RELATED POST: Diarrhea in Dogs & Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

For those with competitive agility, diving or racing dogs, consider adding a supplement to his diet to help repair his muscles and joints quickly and safely. 

Nick the quick

It happens to even the most seasoned pet groomers -- sometimes you’ll nick the quick when trimming your pet’s nails. Nail quicks bleed. A lot. But it can look a lot worse than it is. Fortunately, cutting too close to the quick isn’t any worse for your pet than it is for yourself. It kind of stings, but he’ll be just fine. 

  • If your pet’s nails are white or pink, you can often see the quick inside (it’s darker), so don’t clip below that mark.

  • If your pet has black nails, it’s trickier to know where to clip. Less is more. You can always go back and take a little more off later. If, however, you do wind up nicking the quick, apply a small amount of styptic to stop the bleeding. Then give him a treat, he earned it!

Injuries You Should Not Treat at Home

Certain injuries are just too serious for DIY treatments. If any of the following situations apply to your pet, take him to the vet immediately:

  • The wound is deeper than the surface of the skin
  • The wound is bleeding uncontrollably
  • The wound is infected (yellow, green or brown discharge, unpleasant odour)
  • He’s been bitten by a venomous insect, arachnid or snake
  • He’s been bitten by another animal (wild or domestic)
  • He has any type of oral injury (in or around his mouth) - this area is prone to infection
  • If there appears to be any deformity, which might point to a broken bone or dislocation
  • If your pet is experiencing uncontrollable diarrhea or vomiting

If your dog’s injuries are minor enough that you can treat them at home, remember to be gentle and reassuring. Injuries can be scary and often painful, so do your best to stay calm, deal with the situation and give him some much-needed love.

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