The following items were included in a first aid kit that the Cincinnati Veterinary Medical Association gave to police dog handlers at a recent workshop. A home first aid kit needs many of the same items.

  • Gauze sponges -- 50 four-by-four inch sponges, two per envelope
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Activated Charcoal Capsules*
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Ear syringe -- two ounce capacity
  • Ace self-adhering athletic bandage -- three-inch width
  • White petroleum jelly (Vaseline or similar)
  • Eye wash
  • Sterile, non-adherent pads
  • Pepto Bismol tablets
  • Hydrocortisone acetate -- one percent cream
  • Sterile stretch gauze bandage -- three inches by four yards
  • Buffered aspirin
  • Dermicil hypoallergenic cloth tape one inch by 10 yards
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Kaopectate tablets maximum strength
  • Bandage scissors
  • Custom splints
  • Vet Rap bandage
  • BENADRYL TABLETS -  Benadryl capsules (not liquid or gels) for allergic reactions and insect bites- bee stings - at the 1st sign of a reaction dose animal with this and get to a vet FAST!   Dosage: FOR DOGS UNDER 50 LBS- 25MG TABLET EVERY 12 HOURS.

*Activated Charcoal - This is a good thing to have on hand for people and pets.  This is what your vet will give a cat or dog in liquid form when they have ingested rat poison or antifreeze. It will absorb the toxins in their stomach and intestinal tract.  Milk is always a first to give if you suspect any kind of toxin, whether elemental, like a skink, toad or mushroom; or chemical like antifreeze, rat poison or any other pill or household chemical.  Milk, activated charcoal and get your pet to the vet immediately.  Time can save your pet's life and keep toxins from damaging their kidneys or liver.

Never induce vomiting with ipecac, it can be potentially deadly to some animals (dogs and cats alike).
Keep the ASPCA emergency hotline number handy -
(888) 426-4435
You will be charged a fee but it can save your animals life! We were able to make our dog throw up something by them talking us through over the phone. If we went to a pet emergency or vets office it would have cost us over $300. So the $65 for the phone help was worth it in many ways!

Other suggested items were:
  • Blanket
  • Tweezers
  • Muzzle
  • Hemostats
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Ziplock bags
  • Paperwork, including the dog's health record, medications, local and national poison control numbers, regular veterinary clinic hours and telephone numbers, and emergency clinic hours and telephone number.

Tips on Dealing with:
Vomiting and Diarrhea:
Treat for the first 12-24 hours by withholding food and water. After 12 hours, you can offer ice cubes or 1-2 ozs. of Gatorade or distilled water (in case the tap water has the contaminants). If this is handled well, you can advance to the small meal. If vomiting or diarrhea continues during withholding of food and water and is longer than 24 hours, seek veterinary help. When advancing to a small meal, this should be rice with lean, cooked, drained, meat; the ratio is 75% rice to 25% meat. Alternatively, you can offer baby cereal (cream of rice or cream of wheat) and some cooked egg.

Avoid fatty foods and do not give milk with diarrhea. After 72 hours, gradually reintroduce regular food by mixing with mixture. After first small meal, gradually work up to giving same amounts of mixture as dog is used to receiving at normal meals. A sudden change from bland diet to regular dog food may precipitate a new bout of vomiting/diarrhea. When traveling, baby food rice cereal and baby food meat is more readily available. At this stage, water should be continually available, but
only in small amounts at a time.

Dogs and cats vomit fairly easily, usually because of overeating, dietary upsets, or over-excitement. If the pet is otherwise normal and the problem doesn't recur, there's no cause for concern. If no other signs, withhold food and water as scheduled above, then begin light meals. If the pet also has diarrhea, or seems dull and depressed, or is vomiting frequently, seek immediate veterinary help.
You can give Pepto Bismol or Imodium AD, for diarrhea- (1/2 a 2mg tablet for a 20-30 lb. dog, 2-4x day max at 4-6 hour intervals for dogs, 1/8-1/4 if a tablet or 1ml of the liquid for a 10 lb. cat ; if liquid medication, use a syringe inserted in the side of the mouth ).

One word of caution using Imodium...if there is any vomiting, no diarrhea, or the pet is acting sick, not just having the squirts, be careful using this drug. Imodium acts by slowing to stopping the movement of the gut. If there are a lot of toxins from bacteria or spoiled foods, then this material sits in the intestines and is more likely to enter the bloodstream and make your dog sicker. If there is no diarrhea, just vomiting, you may actually constipate your pet. But if you are traveling or at home, and your pet develops diarrhea and still feels fine, this is a wonderful thing to have on hand.

If your pet passes frequent liquid or semi-liquid motions it may be ill with a minor infection, but could be something more serious. If the dog seems well aside from the diarrhea, withhold food and water as scheduled above. If acute signs are also present (the feces are bloody, vomiting, the pet seems dull and depressed) seek veterinary help.

Guidelines for Handling Pets Vomiting/Diarrhea
If your pet has more than one isolated bout of vomiting &/or diarrhea, the first step towards treatment is to NPO him for 24 hours. This means nothing given orally, food or water. He can have some ice cubes to lick on, as they will provide fluids in extremely small amounts. After there has been no additional vomiting, start back on small amounts of water (Pedialyte is OK), a few laps at a time, every 1-2 hours. If he continues to keep this down over the next 6 hrs, gradually increase the volume in one sitting. After keeping water down for 12 hrs, you can start back on small amounts of bland foods. These include cottage cheese, boiled rice, boiled chicken, lean browned ground turkey with the fat washed off, oat meal, scrambled egg, or prescription diets like I/D. Start with 1-2 tablespoons every 2 hours. After 6 hrs, increase to volume and decrease the intervals. A good goal for a 20 lb animal is 1/3 cup every 4-6 hours. If food stays down the next 24 hrs, feed up to 1/2 cup in 3 meals over the next 2 days. Start adding back regular diet mixed into the bland foods. If vomiting or diarrhea persist or if you see blood-seek veterinary attention immediately.

It should take about 5 days to get back on regular food. Some pets take a little longer, depending on how irritated the gut was to start. If the vomiting/diarrhea continues longer than 24 hrs of NPO, if there is any blood, multiple episodes of vomiting (over 3-4) occur in a short time (30-45 mins), or if the pet is depressed or lethargic, then seek veterinary attention. Young pets less than 6 mos and older pets over 7 years are more likely to dehydrate quicker, so may need medical attention sooner, especially if there is an underlying disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, etc. Most of the time, minor GI upsets will heal themselves if the gut is allowed to rest.

Keep a first aid kit for your pet accessible at home or in your car when traveling. Gathering the necessary items ahead of time could help save your pet's life in an emergency.


1. Get a durable, waterproof (or at least water-resistant) container that opens and closes easily yet securely. It should be large enough to hold the items mentioned below.

2. Include bandage material, such as gauze pads, cotton gauze, adhesive tape and masking tape.

3. Keep a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and anti-bacterial ointment or cream in the kit.

4. Include diarrhea medication, but seek your veterinarian's approval before use.

5. Be sure to pack a pair of scissors, plus tweezers or forceps.

6. Add a few eyedroppers for dispensing liquid medication or for cleaning superficial wounds.

7. Include syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting in the event your pet is poisoned. If your pet is poisoned, consult your veterinarian before inducing vomiting.

8. Find activated charcoal at any health food store. This remedy is good for poisoning or diarrhea and controls flatulence resulting from any stomach or intestinal upset.

9. Store blankets in the kit to keep your pet warm in extreme conditions.

10. When traveling, call ahead to your destination to see if there are any particular dangers, such as snakes, poisonous plants or extreme heat, that you will need to consider when packing your first aid kit.

11. Include the phone numbers of your pet's regular veterinarian and of a nearby emergency veterinary hospital.

Muzzle an injured dog, since overly stressed dogs are more at risk of biting.
For spinal injuries, secure your pet to a board with masking tape that will not hurt the fur or skin. Avoid placing the dog inside a crate or carrier, and call your veterinarian before heading to the hospital so the staff can prepare for your arrival.

Warnings: Never give your cat aspirin or acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol). They are extremely toxic to cats. Avoid giving ibuprofen to dogs, as it can cause kidney failure.

First aid courses for pet owners:

The American Red Cross teams up with chapters of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to provide First Aid courses for pet owners. The cost of the class usually includes a manual and a First Aid Kit, which you can purchase separately from some chapters of the Red Cross.  

The ASPCA Poison Control Center page has some fantastic info as well