Pet First Aid

What You Need for Your Pet’s Emergency Kit 

We often can’t predict emergencies, but we can plan for them! Having an emergency kit for your family and pets is a great idea, and it won’t take much effort to put one together in case disaster, illness or injury happens. Here’s a list of important items to have for your pet’s emergency kit at home—and keep in mind, you’ll want to make sure to update your kit yearly and switch out expired products: 

Medications to have on hand:

For allergies/allergic reaction/itchiness:

–Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), in case of allergic reactions. Benadryl is typically dosed at 1 mg per pound. The tablets usually come in 25 mg. So, a 25 pound dog would get 1 tablet. The Children’s liquid is 12.5 mg/teaspoon. So, a 12.5 pound dog would get 1 teaspoon.

–Cetirazine (Zyrtec), for itchiness. (Comes in 5mg and 10mg tablets) 2.5 mg per dog twice daily.

–Loratidine (Claritin), for itchiness. (Comes in 10mg tablets) Give 5 mg once daily, if less than 15 pounds. Give 5mg twice daily, if 15-39 pounds. Give 10 mg twice daily, if greater than 40 pounds.

For mild vomiting:

–Famotidine (Pepcid AC), for mild, non-chronic cases of vomiting. Dose is about 0.25-0.5 mg per pound. So, a 20 pound dog would get about 5-10 mg, twice daily. NOTE: this is NOT the treatment of choice for most causes of vomiting, so always contact your veterinarian!

For diarrhea:

–Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), for diarrhea. ¼- 2 tabs or capsules, 3 times daily. (use smaller dose for small dogs and larger dose for large dogs) In general, a 50 pound dog can get 1 teaspoon of Pepto, 3 times daily. Not recommended for cats, because they have difficulty metabolizing and excreting salicylates! Do not give to an animal with kidney problems! May turn feces a dark green/black color. Not recommended for long term use!

–Loperamide (Imodium), for sudden onset of diarrhea. In general, 2 mg per 50 pounds, twice daily. Do not use in dogs under 50 pounds.

For coughing:

–Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM with dextromethorphan at 10-15 mg/5ml and Guafenisin at 100mg/5ml), for cough. Roughly, 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds for dogs. Note: This is for Robitussin without Codeine. A cough can be indicative of a serious condition, so always call your veterinarian first.

For motion sickness:

–Meclizine (Dramamine), for motion/car sickness. Not really an emergency, but good for animals that get carsick. 25 mg 1 hour prior to travel for dogs and 12.5 mg 1 hour prior to travel for cats.

For pain:

–Aspirin, DO NOT GIVE For pain. I am purposely NOT giving a dose of aspirin, because aspirin can be very dangerous to give. It can cause bleeding stomach ulcers and can exacerbate kidney or liver problems. PLUS, I oftentimes want to give steroids in an emergency situation, which cannot be given with aspirin! If a well-meaning owner just gave their pet an aspirin, it greatly hinders my ability to treat their animal. (It takes 2 weeks for aspirin to get out of their pet’s system!) There are much safer pain medications to use in animals that can be acquired at your veterinarian’s office. I have recommended aspirin over the phone in a pinch, but it VERY much depends on the situation and the animal.
Hopefully, your pet will never need any of the above mentioned items, but it never hurts to be prepared! Again, always contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns and before using any of the above medications.


Pet First Aid Guide – there are several books you could buy, but perhaps the most convenient is the free Red Cross Pet First Aid app, which you can download for iOS or Android from your app store or Google Play. 

Pet’s information, Microchip number, and pictures of your pet – info to have on hand includes the name and numbers for your vet, the closest 24-hour emergency vet, the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (1-888-426-4435), and your pet’s vaccination records. Store these documents in a waterproof container along with … 

Helpful first-aid/emergency items – things to store away and always have on hand: 

Spare leash & collar and/or carrier for smaller pets 

–Food & water bowls + 5-7 days’ worth of food and bottled water 

–Toys/treats – for distraction 

5-7 days’ worth of your pet’s medications 

–Corn syrup (Karo syrup) – to put on the gums of diabetic animals with low blood sugar 

–Milk of Magnesia – to help with indigestion, constipation and other stomach pains 

–Anti-itch cream or antihistamines (make sure there are no decongestants or acetaminophen)  

–Antiseptic products – such as betadine, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide (which can also be used to induce vomiting) 

–Sterile saline flush – to flush eyes or wounds 

–Styptic pen – to stop bleeding 

–Gauze rolls, adhesive tape, bandage scissors 

–Cotton balls 

–Tweezers 

–Thermometer  

–Rubber gloves  

–Blanket and/oremergency/space blanket 

–Pen light or flashlight


Mini kit for pet emergencies in the car or on the trail – obviously, the above at-home emergency kit isn’t practical or portable for when you’re out with your pet. But here’s a quick and easy 8-item pack that will fit in a small bag and get you through most scrapes, pet or human: 

–Pet first aid guide – you can download a free copy of one here, or purchase any number of pocket guides like this one

–Rubber gloves – these are multi-use items that can protect your hands, become makeshift booties for your dog’s feet, or to put over bandaged wounds to keep them clean and dry. 

–Emergency blanket or space blanket – these block wind, rain, hold in body heat and roll up to the size of your palm 

–Tweezers 

–Betadine or alcohol wipes 

–Sterile saline – for flushing out eyes, wounds 

–Bandage material – gauze, self-adhesive bandage wrap (Vet wrap) 

–Antihistamines – can reduce irritation from insect bites and contact with poisonous plants (make sure there are no decongestants or acetaminophen)  

–A microchip is a must! – Finally, one of the most important things you can do to prepare your pets for any emergency or disaster is to have him or her microchipped!  

To have your pets microchipped, get a copy of your pet’s records for your emergency kit, or for any other help preparing for emergencies as a pet owner, call us at (602) 705-0534