Be Prepared for Pet Emergencies

Linda Lyon

Are you ready for summer adventures with your pets? One way to be sure is to prepare a well-provisioned first-aid kit for them. This kit should not only contain medical supplies, but critical information such as what medications they are taking, as well as their vaccination history.

You should already have contact info for your pets’ regular and an emergency veterinarian while at home, but you can also go to, enter the ZIP code, and check the “Emergency” box to get a listing of emergency providers in the area. Of course, it is always a good idea to have the Animal Poison Control Center helpline number, 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435), handy as well.

Best Friends, a nonprofit that operates the nation’s largest sanctuary for homeless animals, recommends the following for your pets’ first-aid kit:

• Pet first-aid book

• Emergency contact list (your vet, emergency vet, national poison control hotline)

• Pets’ prescriptions

• Coban self-adherent wrap

• Kerlix gauze roll

• Sterile gauze pads (various sizes)

• Abdominal pads

• ACE bandage wraps

• Antiseptic pads or alcohol wipes

• Antibacterial cream or ointment

• Instant cold packs

• Emergency blanket

• Tweezers

• Blunt scissors

• Exam gloves

• Styptic blood clotting powder

• 10 mL sterile saline syringes

• Cotton balls or swabs

• 3% hydrogen peroxide

• Headlamp or flashlight

• Collapsible water bowl

• Muzzle

• Sling for carrying medium or large dogs

The American Veterinary Medical Association adds the following to the above list:

• Milk of Magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb poison (always contact your vet or poison control before inducing vomiting or treating an animal for poison)

• Digital fever thermometer for pets (regular thermometers doesn’t go high enough for pets)—check rectally. Do not insert thermometer into your pet’s mouth.

The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also recommends artificial tear gel and states you can use a turkey baster in place of an oral syringe.

Whether you opt to buy a ready-made first-aid kit or make one yourself, it would be a good idea to ensure the above items are included and that you know how to use them. Of course, avoidance of injury is the ideal when living in the Sonoran Desert. Prudence suggests rattlesnake and toad avoidance training, not walking your dog in the heat of the day, ensuring your pet always has ample water to drink, and carrying tweezers or a comb to remove cactus thorns from your dog’s paws while out on a walk.

As the well-known saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” With a little advance planning and prepping, you can help ensure a long, healthy life for your furry best friends.

Friends of Pinal Animal Shelter and Rescues assists Pinal County Animal Care and Control and their supporting rescue organizations by funding lifesaving veterinary care, training, and supplies necessary to enhance adoptability. Our vision is a humane and compassionate future for every dog and cat in Pinal County. Please go to to learn more, email us with questions, or to donate. Thank you!