10 Must-Have Items for Your Pet First-Aid Kit

Veronica Higgs, DVM
By Veronica Higgs, DVM on Feb. 4, 2024
Pomeranian dog getting paw wrapped with gauze

The most important thing you can do in a pet emergency is remain calm. The second most important thing you can do is be prepared.

When a pet emergency strikes, having an up-to-date first-aid kit already assembled and placed in a convenient location is critical. So, what exactly should be in it? Here are 10 essential supplies you should always have stocked in your pet first-aid kit.

1. Emergency Contact Card

Use a contact card to write down the phone numbers of your veterinarian, the closest 24-hour veterinary emergency hospital, and the Pet Poison Helpline® (1-855-764-7661). It’s helpful to also add these numbers to your phone contacts for fast access.

A portable sticker or wallet card will allow you to write down the types of pets you have and the emergency veterinary contacts. You can place a sticker at each entrance to your home for emergency responders, and keep the wallet card in your wallet or share it with a pet sitter when you are out of town.

In addition to this emergency contact card, keep a complete copy of your pets’ medical records in your pet first-aid kit. If you must take your pet to an ER, the veterinarian will appreciate that you have these records handy. 

2. General Bandage Supplies

Bandages are essential in any pet first-aid kit. In most cases, the bandage you place on an injury will be temporary until you can get to your veterinarian. A pet bandage plays a vital role by providing support and preventing contamination in your pet’s wound. Make sure bandages are snug enough that they won’t fall off, but not so tight as to compromise blood flow.

Essential bandage supplies for a pet first-aid kit include:

  • A self-adhering bandage wrap (also called a crepe bandage)

  • Gauze pads and roll

  • Tape

  • Blunt-tipped scissors

  • Tweezers

  • Gloves (rubber or latex)

Make sure to check your pet first-aid kit every six months for any needed replacements or updates.

One of the best ways to get all of these supplies quickly and affordably is to buy a base kit. The Kurgo® First Aid Kit for Dogs & Cats is an excellent all-in-one pet first-aid kit containing these supplies and more. Additional bandaging material can be purchased to restock the kit as needed.

3. Wound Care

Using a pet-safe antimicrobial wipe, spray, or ointment on your pet’s wound may minimize the risk of infection. An antimicrobial wipe or spray will help clean the area or wound before wrapping it with a bandage. Be sure to check with your veterinarian before applying anything to your dog’s wound at home.

4. Pet Thermometer

Taking your pet’s temperature at home may help you understand how serious their condition is. When consulting with your veterinarian, this information may also be helpful to them in assessing your pet’s condition.

The most cost-effective option for pet parents is a pet-safe digital thermometer for taking a pet’s rectal temperature. Follow directions on the label or from your vet to take your pet’s temperature safely.

If you’re looking for a more deluxe, less-invasive option, an underarm thermometer can measure your pet’s temperature by placing it under one of their front legs. While this type of thermometer can be more expensive, you and your pet may appreciate the comfy, fear-free option.

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5. Eye Wash and Lubrication

If an irritant finds its way into your pet’s eye, they are likely to scratch or rub at the eye, potentially making the situation worse. Since eye injuries can be a serious pet emergency, consult your veterinarian before attempting any treatment at home.

If you are told to flush your pet’s eye, you’ll want to have a good pet-safe eye rinse on hand. This product is essential for any pet first-aid kit. 

After flushing the eye, your vet may recommend a lubricating gel to protect, soothe, and moisten the eyes. These gels may also be recommended after visiting the vet, depending on your pet’s injury.

6. Nail Trimmers and Styptic Powder

A pair of pet nail trimmers is a great addition to any pet first-aid kit, as a pet breaking one of their nails is a common pet emergency. Nail clippers can be helpful to trim a dangling nail while you wait to see if a vet visit is needed.

Styptic powder can be used to stop mild bleeding, particularly if a nail has been broken or cut too close to the quick. Miracle Care® Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder includes benzocaine, which helps ease pain.

7. Needleless Syringe

A needleless syringe can be helpful in a pet first-aid kit. This type of syringe can be used to give oral fluids to a dehydrated pet, or you can use it to flush out and clean a pet’s wound. Additionally, if your pet is prescribed a liquid medication, your vet may recommend an oral syringe to help administer it.

Make sure to keep your syringe sealed and clean until you need it. The Four Paws® Syringe comes with two separate tips, providing flexibility in its use.

8. Probiotics

Aside from wounds and eye emergencies, stomach issues are one of the most common causes of acute illness in dogs and cats.

If your pet is experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, or not eating, contact a vet to discuss if your pet should be seen by a vet immediately.

Your vet may recommend a probiotic supplement, depending on your pet’s digestive issue. For mild tummy troubles, probiotics like Nutramax® Proviable® can often help reset the gut and get things back on track, making them great to have on hand.

9. Transport Aids

Determining how to get your pet to the vet is often a challenge during a pet emergency. Sometimes the pet may be injured or be in pain, making it hard to touch or move them. 

A recovery cone can be used not only to help keep a pet from licking or chewing at an injury, but also as a barrier between you and your pet’s mouth should they try to bite you, due to discomfort they are feeling when you pick them up or try to place them in your vehicle.

A pet-towel can also be used to wrap up a frightened kitty or a small dog, enabling you to look at any potential injuries or other concerns.

Many traumas can occur when a dog slips out of their leash or a cat gets outside unexpectedly. In these cases, having a quick slip lead to place on the pet’s neck can help secure them and prevent further injury.

10. Clean-up Supplies

Emergencies are messy, sometimes quite literally! Having a pet towel and some pet cleaning wipes can be essential for helping your furry friend in their time of need. Urine, stool, anal gland secretions, and blood are often present in a pet emergency, and these supplies will help you quickly care for your pet.

Bonus Items: Treats and Water

If you’re in a situation that requires pet first-aid, chances are good that your pet could use a distraction in the form of a tasty treat or a drink. That’s where dog treats or cat treats come in—as long as your pet can safely eat, of course. Do not feed or offer water to pets who are vomiting, unable to swallow normally, having seizures, or mentally impaired. 

If you’d like an option that serves the dual purpose of being a snack and medicine-hider, try Greenies® Pill Pockets for dogs and cats . Always keep a pet travel bowl handy and a bottle of water stocked in the kit for easy access.

Make sure to check your pet first-aid kit every six months for any needed replacements or updates. Being prepared ahead of time is the best way for both you and your pet to be set up for success when a pet emergency happens.

Featured Image: huettenhoelscher/Stock via Getty Images Plus

Veronica Higgs, DVM


Veronica Higgs, DVM


Dr. Veronica Higgs is a 2010 graduate from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.  She then completed a 1-year rotating...

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