National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. Are You Ready?

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April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month

April is designated as National Pet First Aid Awareness Month by the American Red Cross. Now is the time to check your pet’s first aid kit, replace anything that has expired, and brush up on your first aid skills for your pet. Also, make sure your emergency contact numbers are up-to-date.

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Springtime brings rainfall, seasonal cleaning, and now, National Pet First Aid Awareness Month!

Never heard of it? That’s okay. A lot of people haven’t. What’s important is that you take advantage of the next 30 days to prepare for possible future disasters or mishaps involving your pet. 

What follows are important considerations that will keep your pet safe and you capable during times of crisis.

pet first aid - picture of an older brown dog  lying in a dog bed  with an ace bandage wrapped around his middle

Pet First Aid Kit Supplies

You might be wondering: What the heck kind of contents do I include in a pet first aid kit? Never fear! DoggoTalko is here to help you out. Together, we’ll run through a checklist of basic essentials you need to ensure your drooly do-gooder is well taken care of.   Keep in mind that you do NOT have to go out and buy a pre-made kit (although you can if you want to)! A simple DIY dog first aid kit is perfectly fine. Some things that you’ll want to ensure are included in your kit is:

  • Digital Thermometer. The most important thing to have handy in your pet’s first aid kit is a thermometer. 103 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a fever for dogs, so if Fido is feeling down, a thermometer can help you determine the severity of the situation before a trip to the vet.
  • Gauze and Nonstick Bandages. If you and your dog enjoy long walks or hikes together – or if your pet is just a high-energy park player – you’ll want to have gauze and bandages handy. These can help you to control and protect a wound until you can get your romping renegade into more capable, trained hands.
  • Disposable Gloves. This one’s to protect both you and your dog. Canine immune systems aren’t impervious to infection, so lessen your furry friend’s exposure to bacteria that live on your hands with a thick set of medical mittens. 
  • Blanket or Towel. In your pet first aid kit, a blanket or towel serves a multitude of purposes. First, it will keep your dog safe and warm if you become stranded somewhere chilly. It also provides them a comfortable place to rest while you’re treating their injuries.
  • Eye Dropper and Saline Solution. If you notice inflammation or discharge from your pet’s eyes, having an eyedropper in their first aid kit will make administering drops or performing a rinse so much easier.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide or Milk of Magnesia. If your pet ingests anything toxic, you might only have moments to act. With guidance over the phone from your vet, you can administer hydrogen peroxide or milk of magnesia to induce vomiting. Just be sure to take a deep breath and always consult with a professional before doing so.
  • Alcohol Wipes. Sometimes, your pet’s play gets a little rough. Alcohol wipes are a necessity for cleaning out more minor injuries, lessening their risk for infection. 
  • Children’s Benadryl. Pets get allergies, just like us. And depending on the severity of their symptoms, your four-legged family members might need some relief. Mild doses of Benadryl can remedy itchy eyes or sneezy snouts in a jiffy. 
  • Scissors and Tweezers. Maybe it’s a tick. Maybe you need to cut some gauze wrap. Maybe your bull-headed bully walked straight into a cactus. The circumstances in which you might need a set of tweezers or scissors vary, but they are nonetheless must-have additions to your pet first aid kit. 
  • Cotton Balls or Swabs. Cotton is a great, non-irritating material with which to administer topical medications or to clean out infected areas. Keep plenty of these handy. 
  • Muzzle. Okay, look. Muzzling to keep a dog quiet is wrong. But muzzling them to protect yourself and themselves from injury? That’s another story. Have a muzzle in your pet’s first aid kit for those more dire situations where you might need to prevent licking or biting or to protect your hands when dealing with an already anxious and wounded pup. 
Little brown puppy with bandage wrapped around his head with text that reads Pet First Aid Get the 911 Here

Emergency Contacts

As with any first aid kit, supplies will expire. Check your pet’s first aid inventory every few months to make sure all items are in good working condition.

Also, it’s important to keep emergency contact cards stored in a readily available location, if not inside the kit itself. Amid stressful situations, even the most intelligent bipeds can forget phone numbers or addresses. Emergency contact cards are must-include contents to any pet first aid kit. Some helpful numbers to get you started are:

  • Your vet’s daytime and after-hours numbers
  • ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (800-426-4435)
  • National Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435)
  • Emergency Disaster info line (800-227-4645)
  • Pet Travel hotline (800-545-USDA)

American Red Cross Pet First Aid App

Modern times call for modern solutions and the American Red Cross has you covered! 

Download their free pet first aid app on any of your IOS or Android devices. This nifty application allows you to create your very own checklist, store emergency contacts, and provides step-by-step instructions on how to make a pet emergency plan. Your pets are a part of the family, so when disaster strikes, you want them to be just as ready as everyone else. 

The American Red Cross also has a 30-minute online pet first aid class that you can take that will teach you basic pet first aid.

To read more about the app and making an emergency pet plan, click here

And don’t forget – emergencies = vet bills! So think about getting pet insurance before an emergency happens so that you’re prepared financially for any unforeseen accidents.

If you would like to keep a book on hand for reference The First Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats is highly recommended.

This book covers everything from basic first-aid techniques to CPR. It also goes over which over-the-counter human medications can help – and which can hurt, as well as provides you with a First-Aid Symptom Finder to help pinpoint what is wrong with your pet faster.

Practice Makes Perfect

You can have all the first aid contents, fancy mobile apps, and emergency contacts in the world. But if you aren’t ready and practiced when your dog’s moment of need arrives, you’re putting them at risk.

Every pet owner should consider signing up for pet first aid classes at their local shelter or pet supply retailer to learn tips and tricks that will keep their animals safe. These training classes also get your pet accustomed to important commands that could potentially save their lives in an emergency.

And of course, training and practice doesn’t stop when you get home. Dedicate 15 minutes a day or an hour a week to practice what you’ve learned.

Next Steps

With National Pet First Aid Awareness Month upon us, it’s time to start preparing. Most everything you need to establish a kit can be found at your local pet store or major retailer. For dogs with more specific needs, such as specialized medication, consider talking to your vet about securing an advance supply to include with the rest of your first aid gear.

Above all else, make a plan and write it down. Dire straits can cause our brains to do funky things, and forgetting simple information isn’t uncommon when we’re feeling the pressure. Make sure you’re in a position to care for yourself and your dog with a detailed, easy-to-follow roadmap for navigating chaotic situations.

And of course, we’re also here to help! If you have any questions about what is outlined in this blog entry, reach out to DoggoTalko at: vicki@doggotalko.com

Happy National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, from our pack to yours! 

picture showing a dog paw being wrapped in a bandage with text that says pet first aid get the facts here

How Do I Get Pet First Aid Certified?

The first place that I would look at is the American Red Cross and see if they have any local locations offering this service. However, you can most likely find other local areas by doing an online search. You can also attend on-line classes at places such as the Pet Health Academy and UDEMY. However, most online classes are only going to provide a Certificate of Completion. To become Certified, typically you will need to attend live classes.

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