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10 Things Every Pet Parent Should Have in the House


10emerrgency items for pet parents

It happens far more than you’d think: Pets find themselves in sticky situations that could be dangerous and cause them harm. (Sometimes literally – one of my Yorkie patients found herself in a sticky mouse trap once!)

At my clinic in Alexandria, Virginia, we get calls every day from pet parents who are worried their furry friend is sick, hurt or in need to emergency care.

But when do you rush to the Emergency Vet and when might you be able to provide some comfort to your pet on the spot?

Believe it or not, many pet owners don’t have the tools on hand that could prove useful when your pet gets into trouble.

Here’s a list of ten basic supplies every home with pets should have, to assist with on the spot emergency care.  (And for the Yorkie that was stuck in the sticky mouse trap? Olive Oil!!)

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1. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is necessary to have at hand if you are ever instructed by your vet to induce vomiting after your dog or cat ingests something toxic – such as cleaning products, household chemicals or poisonous plants. Always call your vet immediately after you identify the problem and report what he was eating. If your vet gives you the go-ahead, she’ll also provide specific instructions. If there is no vet available, call ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680). Both are staffed 24/7.

2. Syringe or Medicine Dropper

These items may be beneficial for occasions in which you need your pet to swallow a liquid he is not interested in – such as hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, medication, or even water if your pet is severely dehydrated. Always consult your vet before using this method to get your furry friend to accept a liquid.

3. Rectal Thermometer

A rectal thermometer is the best way to check your pet’s temperature. Taking your little one’s temperature is a crucial piece of information when you are relaying your pet’s condition to your vet by phone or monitoring a current illness.

4. Petroleum Jelly

If you need to take your pet’s temperature, this will lubricate the tip of the thermometer prior to insertion. Petroleum jelly can also be beneficial to apply to your dog’s paws prior to walking in areas treated by salt or de-icing agents.

5. Benadryl® or Diphenhydramine

An allergic reaction, such as an insect sting or bite, can be minimized by administration of Diphenhydramine – commercially known as Benadryl®. Always contact your vet first to make sure it is warranted and to obtain the proper dosage.

6. Tweezers or Tick Removal Device

The first time you find a tick on your beloved cat or dog can be frightening, but it’s easy to become an old pro at removing it using tweezers or a specific tick removal device. Try out different tools to find the one you are most comfortable with.

7. Muzzle

Even the most calm, gentle pet may behave unpredictably when ill or injured. A properly fitting muzzle can safeguard you and your family, while making it much quicker and easier to tend to and transport your pet. Be sure to try the muzzle on your dog or cat before an emergency situation, so you know how to use it and your pet is familiar with it. And, most importantly, make sure the muzzle isn’t too tight. When wearing it your pet should still be able to breathe and pant.

8. Antibiotic Ointment

Over the counter antibiotic ointment is essential to apply to an area post-tick removal, as well as on minor scrapes or abrasions. Just be sure to apply it sparingly in case your pet licks it off. It’s likely a little won’t harm him, but it’s certainly not meant to be ingested. Always talk to your vet before applying.

9. Gauze

A roll of gauze serves many first aid purposes – to control bleeding, for assistance when applying pressure to a wound, to prevent licking or to immobilize an injured area. Gauze can even be loosely wrapped around your pet’s snout to be used as an impromptu muzzle in an emergency situation.

10. Bedroom Leash/Cat Carrier

Where does your dog or cat sleep? Where do you keep his or her leash, or carrier? If those two locations are any distance apart, consider adding a spare to your bedroom. In the event of any situation where you’re forced to rise from sleep and quickly vacate your home – fire, natural disaster – running to another room to locate a leash or carrier wastes precious time and gives your panicked pet the opportunity to flee or hide.

Pets are pretty low-maintenance when it comes to stocking the medicine cabinet and keeping supplies on hand, but knowing some of the essentials are readily available can bring peace of mind and added safety. For a more detailed list, check out What You Should Have in Your Pet’s First-Aid Kit provided by the Humane Society.

Dr. Katy Nelson Dr. Katy Nelson is the mother of five – two human and three animal – kids, an avid nutrition and fitness enthusiast, and an admittedly rabid Louisiana sports fan. She is an associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Alexandria, VA., as well as the host and executive producer of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on Washington DC’s News Channel 8. A Certified Veterinary Journalist (CVJ) accredited by the American Society of Veterinary Journalists (ASVJ), Dr. Katy is the Animal Health Reporter for ABC7 News, and serves as “Dr. Pawz” on WTOP Radio. Dr. Katy is also a founding partner of, a national health and fitness initiative aimed at getting people healthy alongside their dogs, and serves as a media and marketing consultant for numerous pet-related companies and media outlets.

A lover of all animals, Dr. Katy carves out time for many charitable organizations in the DC area and beyond. She is also the co-executive producer on “Tell Them I Am Kind,” a documentary set to air on the PBS Broadcasting network in 2015. The documentary tells the story of the family of Catherine Violet Hubbard, one of the 20 children killed in December of 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and their mission to build an animal sanctuary in her honor.

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