Building a Pet First Aid Kit: What You Need

A pet first aid kit is an essential item every pet owner should have. Here’s a look at how to build one for your pet.

Jan 22, 2024By Lauren Rey
building a pet first aid kid

While there’s no substitute for proper veterinary care, every pet owner should have a pet first kit on hand. From removing ticks and treating minor cuts to stabilizing larger wounds in order to transfer them to the emergency vet, a pet first aid kit can come in handy for many things. Whether you purchase a pet first aid kit or build your own, here are some essential items you’ll need in order to render first aid for pets.

Disposable Gloves

disposable gloves dog
Photo Credit:Anastas404734672/Canva

Whether you’re removing a tick, treating a cut, or cleaning out an ear — you’ll want to glove up! Keep several pairs of disposable gloves in your pet’s first aid kit. These will not only help protect your hands from debris and germs but most importantly, keep things as sterile as possible when treating your pet. Wounds can easily become infected, especially when you are treating them while out in the wilderness or other less-than-ideal situations. Wearing gloves can help cut down on the risk of infection.

Wound Care Kit

dog paw bandage
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Canva

From scratches and bites to cuts and lacerations, wounds are one of the most common injuries that can occur in pets. While you should still seek veterinary care, especially for bites, deep cuts, and large wounds, it’s always a good idea to have a wound care kit in case of emergencies, natural disasters, or when traveling with your pet.

Essential wound care items for your pet’s first aid kit:

  • Antiseptic solution - for cleaning minor wounds (always ensure it’s a pet-safe formula such as such as chlorhexidine)
  • Sterile water or saline solution and syringes - for cleaning and flushing out debris
  • Gauze - for cleaning and packing wounds
  • Cotton swabs - for hard-to-reach areas, applying ointment, and other wound care
  • Antimicrobial ointment - for minor cuts and scrapes (always ensure it’s pet-safe)
  • Self-adhesive bandages - to keep gauze bandaging in place
  • Bandage scissors - to cut bandages to size or remove old bandages
  • Styptic powder - to stop bleeding from minor cuts or torn toenails
  • Sting relief pads - for treating bug bites and stings
  • Emergency cold packs - for treating sprains, strains, and insect stings
  • Eye ointment - for treating minor abrasions to the eye area (always ensure it’s pet-safe)
  • Wound care guide - keep a printout of some wound care basics from the AVMA or other veterinary source

Emergency E-Collar

inflatable ecollar
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Canva

It’s often an animal's natural instinct to try to lick, bite, or scratch at wounds, rashes, and bug bites. Unfortunately, this can introduce bacteria into the skin and increase the risk of infection. To help prevent this, an emergency e-collar is an important item to have in your pet first aid kit, especially if you are going camping or traveling somewhere rural with your pet. If you have a small dog or cat, a plastic foldable one may fit fine. For larger dogs, inflatable e-collars are a great option that won’t take up too much space in your kit.


muzzled dog
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Canva

Even the friendliest dog on the planet may accidentally bite when they’re injured, seizing, or experiencing any type of pain. This can make rendering aid difficult. Animals often won’t understand that you are trying to help them; all they’ll understand in the moment is that something hurts and they don’t want you touching it. Whether you are trying to clean a wound, bandage an injured paw, or simply just trying to transport them to the emergency vet, a muzzle can be an important tool in your pet's first aid kit.


dog tweezers
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Canva

To easily remove ticks, stingers, thorns, splinters, or any other debris from your pet, tweezers are a must-have in your first kit. While any tweezers will do, the best type to keep in your pet first aid is one made specifically for pets. These have features like an easy-to-grip handle, a special edge for tick removal, and a light and magnifying glass for better viewing.

Vet Approved Medications

pet first aid kit
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Canva

Be sure to include backups of any prescription medications your pet is currently taking in their first aid kit (especially if you are traveling or evacuating due to an impending natural disaster). If your pet is diabetic, be sure to include their insulin, test strips, glucose gel packets, and/or any other items they may need on a daily basis.

While you may have heard that there are over-the-counter medications you can give your pet (or some pet first aid kits may even come with them) it’s always important to talk to your vet before administering any new medications to your pet. There are many factors to be considered including your pet’s weight and proper dosage (human doses can be fatal to pets), any health conditions your pet has, and any prescriptions they are currently on that may be contraindicated. To avoid needing to call your vet in a panic when something happens, ask ahead of time and make sure your pet first aid kit is stocked with whatever your vet recommends!

Extra Items to Consider

dog first aid
Photo Credit: Pexelshot/Canva

To customize your pet first aid kit, think about any items that may be helpful for your specific pet and places you may travel with them. You can also ask your vet for suggestions.

Some common helpful extras may include:

  • Emergency carrying sling - for large dogs that go hiking or camping
  • Thermal blankets - to prevent hypothermia in cold climate emergencies
  • Booties - to cover and protect injured paws or provide extra grip while hiking
  • Cooling pads or mat - to help prevent heat stroke in warm climates
  • Thermometer - be sure you know how to use it and what your pet’s baseline temperature is

Don’t Forget The Paperwork

dog veterinary records
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Canva (modified)

To put the finishing touches on your pet’s first aid kit, be sure to include copies of their medical records, vaccines, and a list of their medications — in case you have to visit a new veterinary clinic. If you’re traveling with your pet, it’s a good idea to map out a few veterinary clinics along your route so you’ll have an idea of where to stop if your pet becomes ill or injured along the way. Lastly, keep the contact information for Pet Poison Control handy in case your pet ingests something toxic whether at home or on the road!

Lauren Rey
By Lauren Rey

A lover of all animals, Lauren’s background is in the veterinary world, but she is now a content writer on travel, wildlife, and all things pets! She’s based in Florida, but when not writing, she’s usually plotting out a new road trip route with her partner-in-crime. Pickles is a mixed-breed rescue dog that loves hiking, road trips, and Starbucks just as much as her mom does!