Pet First Aid Kits

Keeping Them Current

By Mary Oquendo

Grooming Rosie (AKA The Vibrating Wonderdog) was always a challenge as she vibrated as if she was standing on a washing machine with an unbalanced load during the agitator cycle.  Rosie suffered from a neurological disorder and I was always on guard when using any sharp tools around her.

While you cannot add “on guard” to a pet first aid kit, you can add the following:

Activated charcoal 

to absorb ingested poisons. Any item in my kit that is intended for poisoning will not be used unless directed by a veterinarian. Poisoning protocols vary and what will help in one instance can cause harm in another.

Antibiotic cream

for wounds. As I groom cats, I do not use triple antibiotic.  Although rare, a cat may have an allergy to the combination of the three ingredients. If allergic, it is a fatal reaction. While unlikely, I prefer to err on the side of caution.

Antihistamine and safety pin

for minor allergic reactions. The specific ingredient is diphenhydramine in the form of a gel 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. It is the fastest way for an anaphylactic pet to absorb the antihistamine. Consult a veterinarian for proper dosing. Not all pets can safely use antihistamines as it may interfere with other medications and medical conditions.

Apps for smart phones.

I have two that I like. The first is Pet Poison Helpline; it will dial the number for the Pet Poison Helpline. As minutes matter in a poisoning, this is invaluable if you cannot reach a local veterinarian for instructions. The second is Pet Tech PetSaver app. The feature I love is the veterinarian locator. This is useful if you are either a mobile or house call groomer and need to find the closest veterinarian. Neither app is free, but worth the money.

Baking soda

to absorb topical poisons or chemicals.

Band aids

for myself. This is the one item that is replenished on a regular basis.

Bandanas

are versatile. In addition to being a pretty accessory for a freshly groomed pet, it can also act as a triangular bandage or sling to take the weight off of an injured limb.

Blood Clotters

such as styptic powder, Hemastop, or dry black tea bags. Black tea contains tannic acid, which is a natural blood clotter. I do not recommend sugar, while effective, it can cause serious medical problems in diabetic or pre-diabetic pets.

Expired gift cards

are always saved. They are a perfect size to cushion pad injuries on larger pets. I place gauze on both sides of the card and securely wrap the cards and gauze to the paw with vet wrap. In addition, the cards can flick out bee stingers. Place the card at the base of the stinger where it meets the skin and lift up and out.

Eyewash

serves double duty. It can be used to flush out both eyes and wounds. Eyewash is sterile saline solution. There are added salts that mimic the natural salt balance of cells and eyes, which speeds healing.

Gauze

comes in three varieties: gauze roll, gauze pads, and non-stick gauze pads. The gauze roll is wider and is good for larger wounds. The non-stick gauze is more expensive and I use it as the first gauze pad on the wound. I then place the cheaper gauze on top on it. The non-stick gauze will not remove the scab when it is time to replace the bandaging.

Honey packets

for hypoglycemic pets. Stress, seizures, as well as an owner giving a pet too much insulin can result in low blood sugar. This is a serious condition that may result in the death of the pet. Signs include listlessness, staggering, tremors, muscle weakness, and seizures. Do not give the pet honey unless directed by a 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 a given for poisoning. If it 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.

Ice or ice packs

will constrict blood flow and slow bleeding. I do not keep ice in my pet first aid kit. Most people keep ice in a freezer, unless of course you are my husband (Ask me about that if you see me at a trade show).

Liquid bandage

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. I 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 that is in pain is a bite risk.

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, the baggies can store smaller items for easy accessibility.

Rubber gloves

to protect you from any zoonotic, as well as collect vomit or fecal samples.

Sanitary napkins

will absorb blood.

Squirt bottle

to deliver hydrogen peroxide down the throat of a dog.

Vet wrap

is wonderful. It keeps the wound secure and dry. Vet wrap is also expensive. The human counterpart, flexible wrap, is the exact same thing at a fraction of the cost. Any flexible wrap will constrict with movement. Check the wrapped wound frequently.

Wound cleanser.

You have several options; the first is sterile saline solution, also known as eyewash. The second is a Chlorohexidine based cleanser, this is easy to find. Almost any store that sells first aid items carries it. The third is my personal choice, Vetericyn products.

What Not to Use: Hydrogen peroxide as it degrades surrounding tissue and cats cannot metabolize it, rubbing alcohol as it stings, or sterile, tap, or bottled water, as it disrupts the salt balance of the cells and slows healing.

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

I always considered myself lucky that I never had an injury with Rosie. I wish I could say that I never had a grooming related injury; however, I’ve had my share of Fluffy zigging while I was zagging.  But always being prepared means you can attend to the injury quicker, which reduces pain and speeds up healing. And to quote Martha Stewart; “That’s a good thing!”

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