Ah, Southern California. While it’s beautiful here—sunny skies, a great climate, mountains, beaches, and forests—there are some things that aren’t so great. Earthquakes are very common, the heat can be intense (as I type this, it’s 113 degrees outside), and we sometimes get hot, dry, and incredibly powerful winds that can wreak havoc on homes and powerlines.
When it comes to any sort of disaster, it’s best to be prepared—and that preparation extends to your pet(s), too. That’s why we’ve put together a list of things to include in your emergency kit for your dog or cat. If you keep a kit in an easy-to-reach, accessible location at home, along with one in your car, you’ll go a long way towards being ready if anything should ever happen.
That’s where this post comes in. In it, we list some things you may want to get and keep on hand so that they’re handy if you have to deal with an emergency.
As you’re putting your emergency kit together, you should also think about where you will take your pets if there is an emergency and you have to evacuate your home. Call around before anything happens to find out where animals can be safely taken and kept in the event of an emergency. If you have family members or friends that you think might be able and willing to take them, make sure you ask them first. If they are willing, write down their contact information (including name, address, email(s), and phone number(s)) and put it in each of your kits.
You can purchase a first-aid kit for people, and then add some pet-specific things to it. Or, you can just assemble the items listed below into a duffel bag or backpack, and keep everything together that way. Remember, one kit should be in an easily accessible location in your house, and each car should also have a kit in it—along with a kit for the human members of the family!
Items to include in your pet emergency kit:
Make sure to keep all documents (paperwork, photos, etc.) in a waterproof container or sealable plastic bag.
- Aconite: this remedy is known as “arnica for the eye” in first-aid treatment. Any physical injury to the eye area calls for this one. This remedy is also primary in situations where there is shock with fear.
- Arnica: this is the one remedy that should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet. It is the first line of defense in any situation that involves either emotional shock or physical contusion (bruising), or both.
- Belladonna: use this remedy in situations of heat exhaustion/overheating, sunstroke, etc; note that Glonoine is also typically given in these situations.
- Calendula: this is the remedy to use for all cuts and scrapes
- Hypericum: think of nerves when you think of this remedy. Anytime there is damage to nerve-rich areas of the body, this is one of the remedies you will want to give.
- Ledum: this is the remedy used for puncture wounds, and that includes punctures from insects (Apis is also used in insect “bites,” particularly from bee stings).
- Nux-vomica: when there is a situation of over-eating or gorging on something, give this remedy. Note there is a set of remedies that may be combined and is typically used in all digestive upset/colic cases: Arsenicum (where poisoning is suspected)/Nux-vomica/Lycopodium (flatulence, bloat, is liver specific)/Carbo-veg (loss of vitality, collapse)/Colocynthis (use in any case that centers around a colic).
- Phosphorus: this remedy is used for bleeding issues; certainly, you must take appropriate measures in arterial or venous bleeding, but capillary bleeding is the most common and less serious first-aid bleeding situation for this one. Apply pressure and give Phos frequently until the bleeding is stopped.
- Ruta: this is the remedy to think of when there is a strain or sprain; it is generally given along with Arnica.
- Silicea: use this remedy when your dog or cat gets some kind of foreign object stuck in their paw, etc. Please note that this remedy will extract objects, and that includes implanted devices; use in lower potency and do not continue beyond the immediate intended purpose.
How to Give the Remedies
You may store and use the remedies either in dry form (pellet) or wet form (pellets dissolved in 80/20 solution of distilled water/vodka and kept in a dropper bottle). Either a 30C or 200C potency is fine in first-aid situations, but typically going above or below that potency is not used in these kinds of acute situations.
All you have to do is get the remedy on a mucus membrane, and in dire cases simply holding the pellets or drops under the animal’s nose can begin to resolve the issue. How often to give the remedy(s) will depend upon the severity of the situation. It can range from one or two doses given about 15-30 minutes apart in relative mild situations (such as for bleeding from a nail trimmed too close), to dosing every minute or less in very severe situations (such as for an unconscious animal).
Animal-specific items (make sure you have enough for each pet):
- Collar with ID tag and contact information for each pet
- Leash for each pet
- Cat harness (if you have a cat—and it’s a good idea to familiarize your cat with the harness, just in case) and leash
- Muzzle for each dog (sometimes, in high-stress situations, even the calmest dog can become panicked. A muzzle is a good idea to have on hand just in case, particularly if a stranger has to handle your dog)
- On a side note: if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing, or having difficulty breathing, do not use a muzzle
- Self-cling bandage (these are handy because they can stretch, and they’ll stick to themselves instead of your pet’s fur. You can find them at pet stores or online)
- Information about where you can take your pet(s) in the event of an emergency, including address and directions (in case you can’t access directions via the internet or cellular network)
- A current photo of each pet, in case they get lost
- Microchip information for each pet, including the microchip number(s)
- Any paperwork you have for your pet(s), including medical information
- Extra medication for your pet, if they are taking any
- First-aid book for pets
- Phone numbers:
- The nearest emergency vet clinic (and directions if you aren’t familiar with how to get there)
- Poison-control center or hotline (at the time of publication, the ASPCA poison-control center hotline is 800-426-4435)
- If you have a cat, a carrier is a good idea to have on-hand as well. Make sure your cat is accustomed to going into the carrier.
- A space for food for your pets (and enough food for 2-3 days of feeding).
- If you feed raw, you can keep extra frozen food on hand for your pet(s). Freeze-dried is also an option. If you feed processed food, make sure you have enough set aside for 2-3 days of meals.
- Transportable food and water bowls
- Homeopathic remedies listed in the April/May 2016 issue of Raw Pet Digest
- Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets
Basic supplies (for humans and animals):
- Absorbent gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Antiseptic wipes, powder, or spray
- Blankets (can be foil emergency blankets or old spare blankets)
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Gauze rolls
- Non-latex disposable gloves
- Rectal thermometer (your dog’s body temperature should be 101-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3-39.2 degrees Celsius), and your cat’s body temperature should be between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38-39.2 degrees Celsius)
- Water-based lubricant (to lubricate the thermometer)
- Scissors with blunt ends
- Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandages
- Sterile saline solution
- Glucose paste or corn syrup (for diabetic animals)
- An expired or sample credit card—these are very handy for scraping away insect stingers
- Nail clippers
- Splints and tongue depressors
- Needle-nosed pliers
- Penlight or flashlight (check the batteries periodically to make sure it’s working)
- Plastic eyedropper or syringe
- Rubbing alcohol for disinfecting the thermometer
- Colloidal silver
While there are other things that you may want to include in your emergency kit (for example, I have a small jar of Manuka honey and some essential oils in mine, in addition to what is listed above), the items listed here are a good place to start.
With a little foresight and planning, you can easily help make sure that you and your pets are prepared in case anything comes up. By planning ahead, you can help your pets stay calm and safe, even in a disaster.