By TreeLiving April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month and what better time than to learn more about Pet First Aid than now! You don’t want to have to rely on your vet being within easy reach when your pet is ill or injured. Having a first aid kit, plus the basic knowledge of what to do in an emergency, can make all the difference. If the situation is serious it might be a lifesaver while you wait for expert veterinary help. The reality is that the human world can be a dangerous place for pets of all kinds. The first step is to be aware of the environmental hazards that could pose a threat to your cat, dog or other pet. The second is to be equipped with the tools and the information you need to do something about it if something goes wrong. Accidents and injuries may never happen to your pet, especially if you’ve taken preventive measures. But even if you’re careful, it’s always best to be prepared. For example, you may have a green home with few or no toxic chemicals around. But something like xylitol (a sweetener used in products like candy, chewing gum and toothpaste) can be lethal to dogs. There’s always room for error, and a pet first aid kit is a handy thing to have if things do go wrong. You may never use them, but there are various items that will be invaluable in a pet emergency. For wounds and bleeding, non-stick bandages, cotton balls or gauze and antiseptic are basics. Don’t forget a pair of scissors. In case of something in the eyes, saline eye wash could be vital. Tweezers, syringes for oral administration if required, and a rectal thermometer (plus lubricant) are other items to consider. If your pet has a known health condition, you may want appropriate remedial supplies for its needs, for example, antihistamines in case of allergic reactions. Environmental hazards aren’t just dangerous for your pets but for you as well. Include rubber gloves in your pet first aid kit and perhaps some unscented wet wipes so you can clean up after treating your pet. To help secure an ill or injured dog, a spare leash and a muzzle can be useful things to put in the first aid box. A towel and penlight flashlight are also things to consider adding. There are some things that are useful to have in a pet first aid kit, but which should never be administered except on the advice of a veterinarian. In cases of poisoning, hydrogen peroxide of specially formulated strength will induce vomiting, but for some poisons this is not the right treatment. Activated carbon (e.g. Toxiban) is another product to deal with instances of poisoning that could be a lifesaver, but only on your vet’s advice. It’s worth repeating that even in a green home, toxins can be lurking, but identifying the poison is always important. There may be only so much you can do in emergencies, so don’t forget to keep your veterinarian’s contact details in your pet first aid box and get your pet professional help as quickly as possible. If this all sounds alarming, then don’t forget that prevention is better than cure. Think through environmental hazards and be prepared with a first aid kit easily at hand in the home or in your vehicle. The more careful you are the less likely you are to ever have to use it.