Certain medications and items are great to have on hand, in case of after- hours emergencies. This is my list for things that may be able to get you through a late night crisis. I would always call a veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet. Please call a veterinarian and seek their advice on using these products before doing so. For example, for some toxins, you could cause problems to the esophagus by making your animal vomit with hydrogen peroxide. Also, some cases of vomiting or diarrhea are more serious than others. Do not try to self-diagnose without speaking to a vet. A lot of these products are meant to be used “in a pinch” and are not the treatment of choice. In other words, at 3AM we may advise using Pepto Bismol for diarrhea, but we would recommend bringing your animal in during office hours to be properly examined, diagnosed, and treated.
–Poison Control Number! There is a fee for this information, but they will let you know if your animal needs emergency treatment or not. ASPCA Animal Poison Control: (888) 426-4435
–Bandage Material (Gauze, Nonstick Pads, Adhesive bandage tape, Bandage wrap). It is very easy to make a bandage too tight, so you must closely monitor for swelling.
–Elizabethan Collar. This is a life-saver, if you have an animal that will not leave a wound or surgery incision site alone.
–Muzzle. When animals are in pain, even the sweetest one will bite. If you have a pet that’s been injured in a fight or been hit by a car, please make sure they are muzzled, before you try to move them. You can tape their muzzle closed or tie them closed with gauze, in a pinch. Do not leave a muzzle on for long-term, as this can cause them to overheat.
–Copy of Pet’s Medical Records– It’s always a good idea to keep a copy of your pet’s medical records somewhere that is easily accessible. If you travel, make sure to take these along, as you never know when and where your pet may become ill! Medical records are extremely valuable to a veterinarian.
–Homemade Stretcher. For large dogs, you can put them on a blanket to help scoot them or lift them into a car. If a dog is having trouble using its rear legs, you can use a towel as a sling by placing it under their belly.
–Hydrogen Peroxide, to induce vomiting. Dogs will often swallow things that they shouldn’t. Your veterinarian may advise you to give hydrogen peroxide to make them vomit. As mentioned above, this will depend on what was ingested and how long ago it was swallowed.
–Karo Syrup. This is great to have for puppies and kittens. Sometimes, young puppies/kittens can get low blood sugar, for various reasons. A squirt of Karo syrup on the gums will help to revive them.
MEDICATIONS TO HAVE ON HAND:
For allergies/allergic reaction/itchiness:
–Diphenhydramine (Benadryl), in case of allergic reactions. Benadryl is typically dosed at 1 mg per pound. The tablets usually come in 25 mg. So, a 25 pound dog would get 1 tablet. The Children’s liquid is 12.5 mg/teaspoon. So, a 12.5 pound dog would get 1 teaspoon.
–Cetirazine (Zyrtec), for itchiness. (Comes in 5mg and 10mg tablets) 2.5 mg per dog twice daily.
–Loratidine (Claritin), for itchiness. (Comes in 10mg tablets) Give 5 mg once daily, if less than 15 pounds. Give 5mg twice daily, if 15-39 pounds. Give 10 mg twice daily, if greater than 40 pounds.
For mild vomiting:
–Famotidine (Pepcid AC), for mild, non-chronic cases of vomiting. Dose is about 0.25-0.5 mg per pound. So, a 20 pound dog would get about 5-10 mg, twice daily. NOTE: this is NOT the treatment of choice for most causes of vomiting, so always contact your veterinarian!
–Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol), for diarrhea. ¼- 2 tabs or capsules, 3 times daily. (use smaller dose for small dogs and larger dose for large dogs) In general, a 50 pound dog can get 1 teaspoon of Pepto, 3 times daily. Not recommended for cats, because they have difficulty metabolizing and excreting salicylates! Do not give to an animal with kidney problems! May turn feces a dark green/black color. Not recommended for long term use!
–Loperamide (Immodium), for sudden onset of diarrhea. In general, 2 mg per 50 pounds, twice daily.
–Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM with dextromethorphan at 10-15 mg/5ml and Guafenisin at 100mg/5ml), for cough. Roughly, 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds for dogs. Note: This is for Robitussin without Codeine. A cough can be indicative of a serious condition, so always call your veterinarian first.
For motion sickness:
–Meclizine (Dramamine), for motion/car sickness. Not really an emergency, but good for animals that get carsick. 25 mg 1 hour prior to travel for dogs and 12.5 mg 1 hour prior to travel for cats.
–Aspirin. For pain. I am purposely NOT giving a dose of aspirin, because aspirin can be very dangerous to give. It can cause bleeding stomach ulcers and can exacerbate kidney or liver problems. PLUS, I oftentimes want to give steroids in an emergency situation, which cannot be given with aspirin! If a well-meaning owner just gave their pet an aspirin, it greatly hinders my ability to treat their animal. (It takes 2 weeks for aspirin to get out of their pet’s system!) There are much safer pain medications to use in animals that can be acquired at your veterinarian’s office. I have recommended aspirin over the phone in a pinch, but it VERY much depends on the situation and the animal.
Hopefully, your pet will never need any of the above mentioned items, but it never hurts to be prepared! Again, always contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns and before using any of the above medications.