Stock these and you may save your pets


So you’ve got your antiseptic, your painkillers, your bandages, your antihistamines, your emergency medicines—you’re pretty much set in case of an emergency.

TIP: If you don’t have your own emergency kit, then you should really get around to that. You’re welcome.

But what about your pet?

Pet Aid

Let’s first establish the most obvious umbrella rule: please do not administer your own human medicines to your pet. Whatever kind of pet you’ve got, it’s safe for us to assume it’s smaller than you, and it’s a given that its physiology is different. Don’t take that risk.

The best thing you can do is to check your nearest veterinary clinic. If there’s an emergency and you call ahead but there’s no doctor available, staff members who are present should still be able to help you out.

TIP: Keep a pen and scratch paper or a small notebook in an easily accessible area of your home, such as where your landline is, or where you keep your keys, or on a small table near the main door. That way you can easily take notes in case of emergencies.

A good pet owner also knows when their charge is acting strangely. Check whether Fido or Fluffy’s appetite, general sleep pattern, and active hours lie within their normal range. Any sudden spike or drop in one or more of these warrants a visit to the vet as soon as possible.

Any accidents and/or injuries should of course be treated with the same if not more urgency; in case anesthesia has to be administered, don’t give your pet food or water until the vet or clinic staff say it’s safe to do so.

So what should you have on hand for minor cuts or when you have to wait for the vet to arrive?

More or less, these are the same things you should equip your own kit with, but with a few things swapped out:

  • Bandages
  • A roll of self-adhesive or crepe bandage (five centimeters or cm width)
  • Conforming or open-weave bandages (two and a half cm width)
    • Surgical sticky tape
    • Cotton balls, cotton swabs
    • Sterile absorbent gauze
    • Non-adhesive absorbent dressings (five cm square) to cover open wounds
    • Blunt-ended scissors, preferably curved
    • Thick, clean towels• Sterile saline solution
    • Iodine solution
    • Medicine droppers or measured syringes
    • E-collar/pet cone (often jokingly referred to as the “cone of shame”)
    • Heating pad/lamp (particularly if you have a bird)
    • Gram scale (birds should be weighed at least monthly)
    • Painkillers, antihistamines, etc. as approved by your vet
    • Specialized items such as anti-fungal cream (depending on your type of pet)


If you have multiple pets, make sure there’s enough to go around. You may want to keep all these in a handy sectioned kit that you will store where it’s easy for you or your household to access.

It’s slightly different for fish, though. You’re going to need a separate tank (the “hospital tank”) and the equipment/tools necessary to test pH, ammonia, phosphate, and nitrate levels. That way, and by observing the environment inside the aquarium, you can generally figure out what’s wrong even if you can’t reach your vet right away.


This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s August 2017 issue.