Be Prepared for Emergency Pet Care: Steps to Take Now What to Do Before an Emergency Strikes

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It's hard to stay calm and think clearly in the middle of an emergency. So in order for things to go smoothly, it's always best to be prepared. Here are some steps you can take now to ensure you will be ready in the event your pet is seriously hurt.

When you realize that your pet is hurt or seriously ill, your actions are important—sometimes determining life or death. So what can you do to give your furry friend their best chance? Preparing a contact list, first aid kit, and plan can make a big difference. Here’s how to handle an emergency pet care situation.

Plan Ahead—Who Can You Call?

Unfortunately, many pet emergencies happen when regular veterinary offices are closed. You will need to find the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. Ask your vet if they offer any after-hours care, and if they have recommendations for a nearby hospital.

In the event of poisoning, you will also want to have relevant phone numbers handy. Look up your area's 24-hour poison control centers, and keep these numbers handy:

  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control: (888) 426-4435
  • Pet Poison Helpline: (800) 213-6680

You will be charged for the service but a quick phone consultation could save your pet.

Once you've found the nearest emergency centers and poison helplines, make sure the information is easily accessible.

  • Along with your vet's information, put names, phone numbers, and addresses on your fridge and in your phone for quick access.
  • If you have pet insurance, include that information for quick reference.
  • If you have a GPS that can access saved routes, program the hospital address ahead of time.

These preparatory steps can save you time and frustration in an emergency situation.

Stock a Pet First Aid Kit

It pays to have a pet first aid kit on hand, whether your buy one or make your own. A couple items are particularly important for emergency situations:

  • Pet information, including age, sex, weight, breed, medications, and medical history. This can all be printed neatly on a index card.

  • 3 x 3 sterile gauze pads and rolled gauze, for bleeding wounds. Never remove gauze that is soaking through—only add layers on top with gentle pressure. If your dog is acting aggressively, you can also use the rolled gauze as a muzzle.

  • A safety razor, for shaving fur away from wounds.

  • Disposable gloves, to keep your hands and a pet's wound clean.

  • A nylon leash, for transportation. Styptic gel such as Kwik Gel can be used to quickly stop bleeding.

  • Rectal thermometer in case fever is suspected. Note that dogs and cats tend to have normal temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • 3% hydrogen peroxide is among the best ways to induce vomiting in dogs. But check with a poison hotline before you administer this, because with some poisons it can make things worse. Also make sure to replace it upon expiration.
More on Pet Safety

Pet Fire Safety Checklist
Fall Safety Tips to Keep Your Pet Out of Harm's Way
Supplies for Keeping Outdoor Cats Safe and Healthy

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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