Doggy SOS: Dog First Aid Kit Essentials

Having a pet first aid kit can help you provide your dog with immediate care in emergency situations to buy you time until you can reach a veterinarian.

Published January 16, 2024
Golden Retriever holding First-Aid-Kit

Everyone has a first-aid kit in their home, but for pet owners, a specific dog emergency kit is equally important. This should be a compact bag of supplies that is easy to grab for outdoor adventures or can be used if you find yourself dealing with a pet emergency at home. Discover the importance of pet first-aid kits, along with what you should and shouldn’t include when making your own.

Dog First Aid Kits Save Lives

When should you carry a dog emergency kit? It’s something that’s helpful to have at home at all times or tote in your car when you’re out and about with your dog, but first-aid kits can be lifesaving in these situations:

Young couple walking the dog in nature
  • When backpacking
  • On a hike
  • At the dog park
  • On a road trip
  • While traveling with your pet
  • In case of a natural disaster
  • When evacuating  
  • When leaving your dog with a pet sitter
Quick Tip

Getting pet first aid certified is a worthwhile investment for all pet parents. You can complete the course online with the American Red Cross in less than an hour. Also, consider becoming pet CPR certified through RECOVER CPR.

What to Include in Your Dog First Aid Kit

There are plenty of pet first-aid kits available for purchase, and most are fairly well-stocked. That said, it’s always wise to curate your kit to your individual dog. Because of their size, temperament, or medical needs, they might need different supplies in the case of an emergency. Here’s a starting point for what to include in your own kit:

First aid kit

Important Phone Numbers

Include your veterinarian’s phone number as well as the contact info for the nearest 24/7 emergency vet hospital.

Medical Records

Your kit should include the latest copy of your dog’s medical records in case you need to go to a vet hospital that’s never seen your dog or in the case of evacuation.

Slip Leash

A simple slip leash can be used for many important things. If your dog gets out of their collar, you can use this leash instead. It’s also something you can use to catch a stray dog that might need emergency care, and it can even be used as a tourniquet for bleeding injuries.  

Digital Thermometer

You can take a rectal temperature with a digital thermometer, which is a critical piece of your dog’s vitals.


A towel can be used for keeping a dog warm, cleaning wounds, or for restraint.

Large Oral Syringe

You can use a syringe to give a dog water by mouth, administer medications, or even flush wounds.


Tweezers are great for removing cactus spines from paws.

Saline Solution

Ideal for flushing debris out of eyes.

Sterile Lubricant

Use this in wounds to keep them clean in transit to your vet.  


Aka. Benedryl can be helpful in cases of allergic reactions. Never give without veterinary directions.

3% Hydrogen Peroxide

Diluted hydrogen peroxide can be used to induce vomiting under the direction of a veterinarian if your dog ingests something toxic.


Any dog in pain can react and bite, so a muzzle can be necessary to keep you safe.


A tourniquet can restrict blood flow to stop excessive bleeding until you get to a veterinarian.

Disposable Gloves

Gloves protect you from bodily fluids.

Water Bottle

Use for drinking water if a dog is overheating or to flush eyes or wounds.

Things You Shouldn’t Include

There are a few things that just aren’t necessary in a dog first-aid kit or could actually be harmful to your pet. Skip these supplies:

Human Medications

Most human medications are toxic to pets and can do much more harm than good.  

Snakebite Suction Kit

Studies show that snakebite kits really aren’t effective, and you’re better off using the time after a snakebite to rush your pet to a veterinary hospital where they can receive an antivenin infusion.

Expired Supplies

Supplies lose their efficacy over time, so it’s important to check and update your first-aid kit regularly.

RELATED: Evacuating Pets During Natural Disasters

Shouldn't I Just Go to the Veterinarian?

Of course, you’ll want to head right to your veterinarian any time you find yourself dealing with an emergency involving your pet, but there may be times when you can’t get to the vet right away, like if you’re on a hike in the middle of the wilderness. A dog emergency kit can allow you to stabilize your dog and may even help you save their life until you can reach your veterinarian.

Create a Lifesaving Pet First-Aid Kit

First aid kits aren’t meant to replace professional veterinary care, but they can definitely buy you time when you’re in an isolated location or traveling. And if you don’t feel comfortable making your own, there are plenty of pre-made kits you can find. You’ll never regret being prepared in an emergency situation, and your furry friend will thank you, too.

Doggy SOS: Dog First Aid Kit Essentials