It’s a beautiful Spring day and you and your dog are out for a long walk in the sunshine. She stops to smell something fantastic in the grass and, all of a sudden, a bee lands on her nose and bites! Almost immediately, the sensitive area starts to swell, so you hurry home and grab your pet first aid kit, pull out the Apis Mellifica and give her a dose. Fifteen minutes later, the swelling is subsiding and what could’ve been a very painful situation for your pup, is now just an inconvenience.
This is how any unexpected scenario could go where your pup or kitty has an accident that doesn’t need immediate veterinary care, IF you know what to do and have a great pet first aid kit to do it with.
April is National Pet First AID Awareness Month, so let’s take a dive into what goes into the perfect pet first aid kit and why. Follow this advice, and you’ll never be unprepared again.
What are the must have categories to cover?
You’ll want to have the following in your kit:
- Essential contact numbers
- Essential basic supplies
- Most common remedies, both homeopathic and herbal
Essential Contact Numbers:
- Phone numbers: your veterinarian, the nearest emergency-veterinary clinic (along with directions!) and a poison-control center or hotline (such as the ASPCA Poison Control Center, which can be reached at 1-888-426-4435)
- Paperwork for your pet (in a waterproof container or bag): proof of rabies-vaccination status, copies of other important medical records and a current photo of your pet (in case he/she gets lost)
Essential Basic Supplies:
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
- Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Gauze rolls
- Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
- Ice pack
- Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting (don’t use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing or otherwise having difficulty breathing)
- Non-latex disposable gloves
- Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
- Rectal thermometer (your pet’s temperature should not rise above 103°F or fall below 100°F)
- Scissors (with blunt ends)
- Self-cling bandage (bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur—available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogs)
- Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
- Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies)
- A pillowcase to confine your cat for treatment
- A pet carrier
Now that you have the equipment you’ll need, what medicines will you use to help your pets? You have a wide variety to choose from; here are some of the more common ones to keep on hand.
I would recommend have 30C pellets of each in your arsenal.
Aconite is THE remedy to have on hand when you or your pet experiences any kind of trauma, shock or intense fear brought on by an occurrence. Immediately following, give a dose or two to calm the constitution of your pet.
Aconite will help to relieve the shock to the body associated with a traumatic injury. It can even help with pets afraid of car rides. Here are some other symptoms where Aconite can help:
- Extreme sensitivity to noise, light, touch, fears of not recovering
- First stages of colds/kennel cough
- After car accidents
I had a fender bender not too long ago that really shook me up. Two doses of Aconite set me straight.
Arnica Montana (Leopard’s Bane):
Another must have; I think Arnica is the most used homeopathic remedy out there. Sprains, strains, swelling, bruising, inflammation from these things all find relief with Arnica. Arnica can be used in conjunction with Aconite; Aconite first for shock, followed by Arnica for any bruising, swelling, inflammation.
Arsenicum Album (Arsenic):
If you’re thinking right now, arsenic, I’m not giving my baby that!, then please know that there are many plants used in homeopathy that are poisonous in their original form. But, when they are as diluted and then potentized by the homeopathic process, there is no actual original substance left, only the energy of that substance. That’s why Arsenicum or Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade) or many other homeopathic remedies that were poisonous in their original form aren’t. So, don’t worry. Arsenicum can be very useful for:
- Acute vomiting and diarrhea caused by food poisoning or ingesting other toxins. In these cases, Arsenicum can be life-saving. Pets will exhibit chilliness, restlessness, weakness from slightest exertion and are only thirsty for small drinks at a time
- Ailments typically appearing on the right side
Bach’s Rescue Remedy:
This is a homeopathic product that is a must have to help your pet deal with stressful situations. Accidents, a trip to the vet, surgery, and thunderstorms are all good times to pull out the Rescue Remedy.
Made from a combination of five flower essences—including Star of Bethlehem, Rock Rose, Cherry Plum, Impatiens, and Clematis—Rescue Remedy helps to calm down your pet so he’s more receptive to accepting help. Place a few drops in your dog’s mouth, food or water bowl. with flower essences, also rubbing into their pressure points like the inner ear and groin areas is good; even putting some on his or her favorite blanket or bed.
Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade):
This is a good remedy for hot and intense conditions that come about quickly. Some relevant symptoms include:
- Gums are bright red and hot
- Typically right-sided symptoms
- Worsen at 3 p.m. and after midnight
- Often very thirsty
Can be used for:
- Hot spots
- Heat Stroke
How amazing is Calendula? Let me count the ways. Every time my Sophie has a hot spot; she’s licked her skin raw or has a cut or scrape, Calendula is my go to. It is one of the most healing for all types of skin conditions. Bug bites, skin rashes, or poison ivy is perfect for Calendula, which is both soothing and very healing. Comes in a remedy; we usually use in a cream, ointment or gel.
This remedy works similarly to an antibiotic, without the “anti” or suppressive qualities. Can be used for animal bites, abscesses, and some painful ear infections. As always with homeopathy, remedies for things like ear infections should be geared to that individual pet, which requires some knowledge of homeopathy and case taking.
Hypericum (St. John’s Wort):
This is a great remedy for smashed paws – fingers, toes – where nerves have been compromised. It is often called the “Arnica of the Nerves.” Hypericum relieves pain associated with nerve damage, disc disease, and surgery. Other things it can be used for:
- In any areas that have lots of nerve endings — tails, toes, ears, fingers, teeth, etc.
- With brain and spinal cord injuries
- To relieve pain after surgery
- For speeding up healing of jagged cuts
- Teeth extractions
- Tail slammed in the door
- Bites/wounds to the fingers, toes, tail
- Smashed toes
A great remedy to use with:
- Symptoms of vomiting — usually a very clean tongue
- Non-stop nausea, not relieved by vomiting
- Blood in vomit or urine
- Lack of thirst
- Asthma attacks
- Gushing of bright red blood
- Car sickness
- Nausea from medication
Ledum (Wild Rosemary):
The go to for puncture wounds, so think Ledum if your dog or cat gets into a fight.
- Deep, clean, sharp puncture wounds
- Insect, tick and animal bites
- Wounded parts that twitch
Nux Vomica (Poison Nut):
This is a great remedy for a pet with an upset tum from overeating, especially of rich foods. Also good for:
- Ridding the body of toxins such as human drugs, antifreeze, pesticides, rat poison, dark chocolate, and more. This remedy can be administered while en route to a veterinary clinic.
- Drug reactions
- Some cases of food poisoning
Utica Urens (Stinging Nettle):
This is a remedy to consider for the skin and urinary system, including:
- Itching, burning, or stinging somewhere
- In the joints, mammary glands, or urinary tract
- Predominantly right sided complaints
- Dogs that brush up against nettle plants and have a reaction
- Some other allergic reactions
Tea tree oil:
A great herb to have in your kit, because it’s antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, an insect repellant and anti-inflammatory. It covers a lot of bases.
It can be used as a dilute spray or cream on wounds or irritated skin, and also works well for ear infections when diluted in virgin olive oil. Mullein, another herb that is very soothing, also works well with garlic as an oil for ear infections. Herb Pharm makes a good one.
Important note about Tea Tree Oil: Although humans tolerate tea tree oil at 100 percent strength, it must be diluted for our pets, and can be extremely dangerous for cats and small dogs, if not. NEVER use 100% tea tree oil directly on your dog or cat. Dilute with a lot of water. The safest ratio is 0.1-1% strength. At these levels, the weakened concentrate is no longer considered toxic.
Nettle Leaf Oil:
This is a great, simple and natural remedy for insect bites and stings. You can rub one drop directly onto the sting to bring relief.
When it comes to first aid for burns and wounds, aloe vera is a great go to. It’s is cooling and soothing properties aid in healing and it improves blood circulation to the area, as well as having antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Be sure to get a gel that’s organic with no preservatives, sweeteners, or flavorings, suitable for humans. Important note about Aloe Vera: never allow dogs or cats to lick or eat aloe vera. The gel and plant leaves can cause gastrointestinal upset or toxicity if large amounts are ingested. If applying topically, make sure to monitor your pet to ensure he or she is not licking the area.
A great remedy for upset stomachs/diarrhea (maybe your little guy or girl ate something they shouldn’t on your hike). We use in powdered form in capsules. I open one or two into some boiling water and boil for about 10 minutes until thick. After cooling, I can give a little at a time, maybe 4 times/day, to calm my pup’s digestive tract. Recommended is about one teaspoon per 20lbs of body weight. Also good for constipation.
Choose those that work best for you and reach out if you have questions. I’m here to help.
Having a stocked first aid kit allows you to breathe easier, knowing you’re prepared in a pinch.
So, go out there and enjoy the Springtime; it’s a great time of year to bound with your pet, explore and wonderful adventures!
To their health –