Ask the pet expert: First-aid kit for pets

My neighbor told me she has an emergency first-aid kit for her dog, with things like bandages, aspirin, and Benadryl inside. I'd like to make my own for my pet. What things should I have on hand for illnesses or injuries to tide us over until we could get to a veterinarian?


I commend you and your neighbor for taking steps to prepare for the unexpected. As you mentioned these supplies do not take the place of a veterinary evaluation or treatment but are meant as an aid until you can get to a veterinarian. The American Red Cross offers a pet first aid course (which comes with a great book and DVD) if you would like to further your training in this area. The list of pet first aid kit supplies below is taken from their book and can be placed in a small box for easy access. The only thing I would add to their list is an Elizabethan collar, which can be purchased at your veterinarian's office or pet supply store. It is important to store these supplies in an area that children and pets do not have access to. Periodically check the box for expired products and restock it as needed when things are used.

Kit should include:


•Absorbent compresses (gauze sponges) in assorted sizes

•Adhesive, hypoallergenic tape

•Antibiotic ointment

•Blanket ("emergency" or "space")

•Clean cloth

•Cold compress

•Diphenhydramine (i.e. Benadryl) in appropriate dosage for your pet's size as approved by your veterinarian for allergic reactions. Make sure product contains diphenhydramine ONLY and no other cold/allergy remedies.

•Dog First Aid book by the American Red Cross

•Expired credit card to scrape away stingers


•Epsom salts (to make saline solution)

•Gloves (latex disposable)

•Glucose paste or corn syrup (for diabetic pets or low blood sugar)

•Grooming clippers

•Hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent

•List of emergency telephone numbers (Pet's veterinarian, after-hours emergency vet hospital, ASPCA Poison Control Center: 1-888-426-4435).

•Muzzle (preferably cage muzzle, though soft collapsible one may be more convenient to carry or roll gauze to create a makeshift muzzle)


•Nail Clippers

•Needle-nose pliers

•Nylon leash

•Petroleum jelly


•Rectal thermometer (non-mercury, non-glass)


•Roll cohesive wrap, 3 inch width

•Roll gauze, 2 inch width, cotton

•Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl)

•Scissors, small with blunt end

•Sterile gauze pads, non-adherent

•Sterile, water-based lubricant (such as KY jelly) that washes off easily


•Syringe (baby-dose size)

•Sterile eye lubricant (available at pharmacies)

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•Sterile saline eye wash (available at pharmacies)

•Styptic powder (to stop bleeding of broke nails)




•Wire cutters, small

It is always a good idea to discuss this with your veterinarian, who may recommend additional medications they feel your pet may need based on your pets previous medical history.

This week's expert is Dr. Tanya Tag, chief of staff/veterinarian at The PET+ER, and Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. Send your questions to