Are You Prepared for a Pet Emergency? Follow These Do's and Don'ts

Pet Emergency Kit Basics

This kit is designed to aid in some common pet emergencies, including heatstroke, insect bites and stings, and potential poisonings. You can purchase most items at pharmacies and pet-supply stores. Be sure to ask your veterinarian if there are any additional items your pet needs based on his medical history and your area of the country.


  • Information card, including telephone numbers for your primary care veterinarian, emergency veterinarian, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435.
  • Self-cling bandages. This bandaging, which is sold at pet-supply stores, sticks to itself but not to fur. They are self-tightening and should only be used for a short time. Apply the bandaging loosely, and remove it if you observe any swelling of the toes.
  • Absorbent gauze pads, disposable diapers, tampons, or feminine hygiene pads. Feminine hygiene products come wrapped in individual packages and are highly absorbent—excellent for open wounds or puncture wounds to help slow bleeding and minimize further contamination before getting to the hospital.
  • Nonstick gauze pads and gauze rolls.
  • Adhesive tape and scissors.
  • Muzzle. Pets experiencing pain or distress may try to bite. Use a soft nylon muzzle or even a strip of gauze to gently secure your pet’s mouth. Don’t use a muzzle if your pet is vomiting or having trouble breathing.
  • Nonprescription antibiotic ointment and antiseptic wipes. Avoid antibiotic ointments that contain added pain control.
  • Cotton balls or swabs.
  • Disposable gloves.
  • Bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and a turkey baster, bulb syringe, or large medicine syringe to administer the peroxide. You can use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, but only when directed by a veterinarian. This product has an expiration date, so be sure to replace it frequently.
  • Old credit card for scraping away a stinger. Squeezing the stinger with tweezers or fingernails can pump more venom into your pet.
  • Rectal thermometer, petroleum jelly to lubricate the thermometer, and rubbing alcohol to clean the thermometer afterward. The normal body temperature for dogs and cats is 100 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Blanket for scooping up a fearful pet, or a pillowcase for cats.
  • Extra nylon leash.
  • Diphenhydramine for allergic reactions. Call your veterinarian before administering any medication.
  • Nail clippers.
  • Styptic powder or pencil to stop a bleeding toenail.
  • Two bath or beach towels.
  • Plastic bags to tape over a bleeding limb or tail to keep the wound clean and protect your vehicle.
  • Needle-nose pliers for removing fish hooks.
  • Flashlight.
  • Old magazine and duct tape for making a temporary splint.
  • Current photo of your pet in case he gets lost or runs away. Keeping the photo safely stowed with the medical supplies will help ensure you can find it if you need it.
  • Health and vaccination records, including your pet’s microchip number. This is especially important when you are traveling with your pet or when you are leaving your pet with a sitter.

Check the supplies twice a year, and be sure to replace any items that have expired.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of HealthyPet magazine.

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