Accidents happen – but they don’t always have to. April marks National Pet First Aid Awareness Month and of the many pet-related awareness dates and holidays throughout the year, this is one that all pet owners should keep top of mind so that they are equipped to respond accordingly in the event of an emergency or accident.
Emergencies and accidents can happen at any time and come in many different shapes and forms, from natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, to fires, car accidents, or instances where you may not be able to leave your home for an extended period of time. Even something as simple as a cut during a trail walk can warrant being prepared. All types of emergency situations, call for a level of preparedness – and this future planning also extends to our pets. In Canada, 41% of households own at least one dog and 38% of households own at least one cat, with pet owners identifying the well-being and health of their pets as their top of mind concern. Meanwhile in the U.S., nearly 70% of households own a pet, and of those pets, it is estimated that 1 in 3 will need emergency veterinary treatment every year. However, a survey conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital shows that 91% of pet owners are not prepared to take care of their pets in emergency situations. We know it’s not always possible to prevent an accident or emergency, but by taking some simple precautions such as having a first aid kit ready, we hope we can help equip pet owners with the information they need to keep their pets as happy, healthy, and safe as possible.
Check out our tips and “must have” items below for putting together an easy-to-access first aid kit for your pet that will help give you some peace of mind in the event of an emergency:
1. Have a weeks’ worth of food and water
Have enough food and water for your pet to at least get through the first week after an emergency, along with a collapsible silicone bowl. It might seem like a no-brainer, but storing food and treat options that can be easily kept fresh until ready for use is also important for your pet’s health.
Instead of compromising freshness and the possibility of spillage by storing half a bag of already open kibble, consider using pocket-sized pet food options such as Petcurean’s NOW FRESH or GO! SOLUTIONS wet food recipes that are packaged in convenient, reclosable Tetra Pak cartons. These recipes are specially formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition so you don’t have to worry about your pet getting the nutrition he/she needs on top of everything else that may already be on your mind in an emergency.
2. Don’t forget the ID and leash
It’s always a good idea to have an extra collar with your pet’s ID tags (don’t forget to include your pet’s name, contact phone numbers, etc.) and a leash and/or harness on hand. Don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money on a spare leash – an old, used leash that you were about to retire can easily be upcycled for this purpose.
If you are feeling like you want to be extra prepared, consider also including a muzzle in your emergency kit – if your pet requires wound treatment, keeping him/her muzzled may help you safely treat your pet without the risk of being bitten and will also prevent your pet from licking and potentially infecting an open wound. And keep your cat and dog carriers in a quickly accessible location – when disaster strikes there’s no extra time for digging through the garage or closets trying to find them so you can transport your pet to safety.
3. Keep your pet’s meds up-to-date
If your pet is taking any ongoing medications, talk to your vet about keeping a back-up supply on hand in the case of an emergency. Be sure to take note of expiry dates if you are storing back-up medication so that you always have a fresh and effective supply available for use in an emergency.
4. Be first-aid ready
Make sure you include multiples of all the traditional first aid supplies in your pet’s emergency kit. This includes things like hydrogen peroxide for cleaning minor wounds, antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection and relieve pain, gauze, scissors, tape, bandages, and rubber gloves for wound treatment, and wet wipes to keep things as clean as possible. Including an extra roll or two of poop bags is also a good idea—not just for poop disposal, but for general disposal of used first aid items, too.
There are lots of great resources available on the internet on what else to include in your pet’s first aid kit and tips on how to identify and handle different types of injuries.
5. Pack the comforts of home
In high-stress situations, having something your pet is familiar with will help ease their anxiety and keep them calm. Consider storing a well-loved blanket and favorite toy, or even an old kennel that you know your pet is comfortable in. Take that old blanket or one of your old shirts that still has your scent on it and store with your emergency supplies in a large sealed zip lock bag, so it’s ready if your pet needs it. Just as comfort items are beneficial to us as humans, the familiar sights and smells of an old toy or blanket will help put your pets at ease in stressful environments.
6. Don’t forget the paperwork
If your pet needs medical attention in an emergency, it will help to have your pet’s health history all in one place. Additionally, include things like phone numbers for your regular vet and an emergency vet, as well as a copy of your pet’s ID, tattoo or microchip information, and vaccination records. In the event of a devastating natural disaster, you may not have access to electronic records, so a paper copy – preferably kept in a waterproof folder – is recommended.
Putting together a pet disaster preparedness kit and plan is an essential part of being a responsible pet owner. After all, you are your pet’s lifeline in an emergency situation. By preparing yourself and your pet for the worst case scenario, you can rest easy knowing that you are doing everything you can to ensure the health and safety of your beloved furry family member at all times. For more information on pet first aid, health and nutrition tips, please visit: https://www.petcurean.com/blog/
The American Red Cross offers a free app for iOS and Android that provide an on-the-go reference guide for pet parents, so they can be prepared to deliver fast and effective care for their pets. The also offer an online cat and dog first aid training class for just $25.
Christine Mallier is Community Relations Manager for Petcurean Pet Nutrition.