Whether you’re planning a woodsy adventure, a trip to the beach, or just want to be prepared at home, a first aid kit for pets is an essential for the discerning pet parent. We never want our animals to get hurt, but having a toolkit on hand is a good way to stay prepared in the event that something does happen.
There are lots of different kits available out there that you can purchase, but because most of these contain things we would rather not use on our pets, we prefer making our own!
First Aid Essentials
Now, before we get to the good stuff, there are a few essentials you’ll need in that kit.
This includes things like:
- Gauze or cotton swabs (not cotton balls! they leave little strands and can cause infection )
- Non-stick Bandages or Wraps
- Medical tape
- A tick removal tool (here’s how to use it properly)
- A towel or cloth
- Clean water
- Saline solution (make your own by adding 1/4 teaspoon of table salt to one cup of purified water)
- Packages of electrolytes (without xylitol or aspartame). This can be really helpful if there is dehydration and you are far away backpacking until you get to a vet.
- A needle-less syringe (for easy administration of electrolytes)
And while these traditional supplies are important, expanding it to include some effective, natural ingredients can only make your kit that much better!
A Herbal First Aid Kit for Pets
So, what do we keep in our natural first aid kit for pets?
Hypericum has been well researched for its anti-depressive activity, but topical skin applications also have a long tradition in natural medicine. Topically, hypericum is used for minor wounds including punctures and burns, sunburns, abrasions, ulcers, myalgia, and many others. It helps to improve and increase tissue regeneration in wounds and is also well-known for its abilities to tone and restore the health of nerves, in addition to soothing skin irritations. A great thing to have on hard for bug bites or scraps.
2. Goldenseal (Hydrastis)
Goldenseal has a long history of beneficial uses by indigenous North American populations, later adopted by settlers in the 1800s. It is a well known natural antibacterial. Today, the plant is most often used topically to help the body deal with local inflammation, and to assist with the healing of skin conditions such as rashes, ulcers, wounds, infections, itching, eczema, and ringworm.
3. Green Tea
Made from the Camellia sinensis plant, green tea is widely known for its antioxidant properties. It also contains polyphenols, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties. Green tea also contains catechins, which are natural antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties.
Horsetail is a popular fern that’s been used as a herbal remedy dating back to ancient Greece. Well known to be effective at helping the body heal burns, wounds, and sores, horsetail also has anti-inflammatory properties and can help stabilize and heal scar tissue. Horsetail has also been found to have antioxidant properties which help fight damaging free radicals.
With abundant amounts of flavonoids, calendula’s plant-based antioxidants protect cells from being damaged by unstable free radicals. It has been used to fight inflammation, viruses, and bacteria. It is also helpful for stomach upset and ulcers, as well as topically to help wounds heal faster by regenerating tissue, possibly increasing blood flow and oxygen to the affected area. The dried petals are used in tinctures, ointments, and washes to treat burns, bruises, and cuts, as well as minor infections.
How to Use These Herbs
You can find most (if not all) of these herbs in tincture, dried, or fresh format, depending where you’re looking.
To use a tincture, add a few drops to a spray bottle, shake, and and spray the area, or soak a cotton swab and apply to the wound. If your pet is afraid of the spray sound it’s best to use a cotton swab.
Steep a tea bag or loose herbs in about 8 ounces of water. Let it cool. Then you can use either the tea bag or a cotton swab to apply tea to the sore.
Make this salve and apply to the affected area.
- 8-10 ounces dried or fresh herbs
- 1 ounce beeswax
- 2-3 cups coconut oil
Place the coconut oil and herbs in a crockpot set to low for 24 hours. Once your oil has taken on the color of the herbs, strain it and put it back in the crockpot with 1 ounce of beeswax for every 8 ounces of strained oil. Once the beeswax melts, remove it from the heat, pour it into small tins or a small mason jar, let cool, then cover.
Next: Homeopathy to the Rescue
Homeopathic remedies are also essential in any first aid kit for pets. These are our go-to remedies to have on hand:
- Aconite 200c – for any kind of shock and trauma
- Arnica 200c – indicated for bruising, any kind of trauma and for pain
- Symphytum 200c – bone or eye injuries, also known as ‘knitbone’
- Ruta 200c – good for strains, sprains, bruised bones, and pulled ligaments
- Calendula 200c – ideal for healing wounds and regenerating tissue
- Apis 200c – good for bee stings and allergic reactions
- Ledum 1M or 200c – my go-to for tick bites
- Carbo veg 200c or 1M – good for any type of collapse, serious injuries, in situations where you’re ready fearful about your animal’s survival
You can find homeopathic arnica for pets (it’s the same as for humans) online or your local health food store will also likely have it. It comes in a variety of potencies. For those new to homeopathy, go with a 30C potency and look for those in pellet form.
The dose isn’t based on weight, and it doesn’t matter if your animal has 2 pellets or 6. As long as some of the remedy gets into your pet, the energy of the remedy will be able to get to work.
If your dog will take the pellets without issue by mouth, that’s an easy way to do it. They even have this perfect little pocket just inside their cheek that you can pop the remedy into. For cats, or pickier dogs, this might not be the easiest option, so you can also stir a few pellets into a small cup of water and give the water to your animal. That works too.
Give the appropriate remedy every 15 minutes, for three doses, along with aconite and arnica, then as needed up to 6 doses. If the reaction is severe do the same thing on the way to your vet!
Have a blast this summer but be prepared 🙂