When it comes to enjoying the great outdoors, our pets make great travel companions. But accidents and injuries can happen, and we must be prepared. From a minor scrape to a more severe incident, having a well-stocked pet first aid kit can make all the difference.
This article will explore the items you need in a cat or dog first aid kit for camping and hiking. This includes some supplies that are often overlooked despite the value they offer.
Let’s get started…
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Can You Use a Human First Aid Kit on Dogs and Cats?
Many items within a standard human first aid kit could be helpful when caring for your pet during a medical emergency.
Basic supplies like antiseptic wipes and sterile gauze pads are essential when stocking your kit. However, they aren’t the only items you may need to care for your pet.
This is where human first aid kits and pet first aid kits differ. A dog or cat first aid kit is designed to address your pet’s unique needs, including injuries to their paw pads, broken nails, and wound dressings that will stay in place even if your pet tries to chew them off.
So, while you can use your first aid kit to care for your pet, you will need to add a few additional items to be fully prepared.
What is the Difference Between a Camping First Aid Kit and a Hiking First Aid Kit?
You may notice that many pet-friendly travellers refer specifically to a camping first aid kit and a hiking first aid kit. But are these two kits the same? If not, what sets them apart?
It is 100% possible that you can create a single first aid kit that will work for both situations. But this would mean carting a bulky kit along on your hiking adventures, which is far from ideal.
Instead, we recommend having two kits. Your cat and dog first aid kit for camping should include all the essentials you may need in an emergency. This includes:
- Basic first aid gear like bandages and antiseptic wipes
- Tools like tweezers that can help with the process of treating your pet in an emergency
- Medications to address pain or a dangerous allergic reaction (some of these will require consultation with your veterinarian first)
- Pet-specific gear both that can help with first aid and also comfort your pet
- Important documentation to have on hand in an emergency
This kit includes everything needed to provide the necessary treatment to stabilize your pet for transport to a veterinarian and prevent further injuries. They are often stored safely in your tent, RV, or vehicle.
On the other hand, a cat and dog first aid kit for hiking is a smaller, more compact version that can easily slip into a day pack or dog backpack when you’re on the go.
Hiking first aid kits have fewer supplies. They have the bare bones necessary to get your pet from where an incident occurred to your larger kit, which is waiting for you at the campsite or in your vehicle at the trailhead.
Creating a DIY Pet First Aid Kit Vs. Purchasing a K9 First Aid Kit
Now that we’ve established the importance of travelling with a pet-specific first aid kit, you may be wondering whether you can purchase one for your next trip.
You can purchase a K9 first aid kit online if you want a quick solution. These kits are already stocked with all the supplies needed to address a variety of potential accidents or injuries. The best part? You don’t have to do any advance preparation.
We like the Kurgo Pet Tactical First Aid Kit for outdoor travel and have brought that along on many of our past trips.
The other option, and the one that we use more often, is to create our own DIY pet first aid kit. This allows us to ensure that we have all the cat and dog first aid supplies that we deem necessary.
To create a pet first aid kit for your travels, you will need to begin with a bag or container that is large enough to hold everything. We recommend choosing something waterproof, especially if you are making a kit for hiking or plan on keeping your first aid kit in a tent.
5 Must-Have Items for Your Outdoor Travel Pet First Aid Kit
While our Camping & Hiking Pet First Aid Checklists break down everything that should be included in your kit, there are a few items that we wanted to take a moment to highlight.
These are items we consider to be must-haves for our pack. However, they are far too often overlooked!
Why do these items not make every first aid checklist available online? Why are some not included in commercially available K9 First Aid Kits?
Long story short, we believe people simply aren’t aware of just how much value each of these items can provide when you are dealing with an emergency – this includes helping to address injuries, providing much-needed comfort to your pet at a time they are likely stressed and anxious, and preventing further injuries while you seek medical treatment.
Here are five items we recommend you seriously consider when putting together your pet first aid kit:
You have likely seen bandanas being sold in many outdoor sporting goods stores. They are a great way to keep the bugs off, protect you from the sun’s rays, create a barrier in dusty situations, and more.
But did you know that this lightweight and portable piece of outdoor gear can also prove extremely helpful in an emergency?
A bandana can be used for many different functions when treating your pet. This includes:
- Wetting it with water to help cool a pet when struggling with heat-related illnesses
- It can be used as a bandage or tourniquet to stop bleeding
- Help secure a splint
- Cover your pet’s eyes or ears to protect an injury from further damage
- Create an emergency muzzle if your dog is lashing out due to pain
There is much controversy in online pet travel communities about whether you should or shouldn’t be offering Benadryl to your pet.
The opposition is well-meaning. After all, NO medication should be given to a pet without first consulting with your veterinarian to ensure it is safe. They can provide guidance on your pet’s unique needs and any possible issues presented by their individual health condition and current medications.
That being said, Benadryl is considered safe to use for healthy dogs and cats and can be an extremely beneficial option when faced with a severe allergic reaction.
Assuming there are no other mitigating factors, the safe dosing recommendation for dogs and cats is 1 milligram of Benadryl per pound of body weight.
But we recommend contacting your veterinarian before your next outdoor adventure. This will allow you to discuss your options, get customized dosing recommendations, and find out if there are any concerns unique to your pet that you should be aware of.
Disposable Dog Boots
Since discovering PawZ Dog Boots, we have never gone on an adventure without 1-2 on hand for our pets. But this isn’t for the reasons you may think.
All our pets have high-quality dog boots that they wear if the terrain or weather conditions call for them. Adding disposable boots to the first aid kit is not to substitute or replace them.
Instead, these simple rubber boots are a great option to place over bandaging when addressing a paw injury, protecting the bandages from getting wet, being chewed on, or picking up dirt and debris while your pet moves about.
If you travel with multiple pets, as we do, you will need to include boots for each size of pet in your pack.
After determining the recommended size for each pet, go up a size. This will allow the extra room needed for bandages or gauze pads.
Emergency Slip Lead
Even the best-quality leashes and collars can break. In an emergency, this can leave you fumbling to keep your pet safe. It can quickly turn an already challenging situation even worse.
You can pack a spare leash and collar for each pet, but this can add up quickly if you have several pets.
Instead, we include a basic nylon slip lead that can be easily adjusted to accommodate our pets. If your pets vary wildly in size (our petite kitty, Pippen, versus our German Shepherd mix, Daviana), you may need to include a couple of options.
Not only can you use a slip lead for its traditional intended use, but a nylon slip lead can easily be repurposed to create a muzzle or to function as a tourniquet.
If you have ever clipped the quick of your dog or cat’s nails, you know how much a nail injury could bleed. Not only that, but nail bleeding can also be difficult to stop if you don’t have the necessary supplies.
Styptic powder is commonly used by pet professionals like veterinarians and groomers.
Dipping the bleeding nail into the powder can effectively stop bleeding, alleviate pain, and reduce the risk of infection. It can also be used to address bleeding from minor cuts, scrapes, and nicks.
Be Prepared with Your Travel-Friendly Pet First Aid Kit
While no one wants to think about being stuck in an emergency, careful planning can make an otherwise critical or life-threatening situation much more manageable.
By carrying a pet first aid kit on your outdoor adventures, you empower yourself to protect your pet, reduce their stress or anxiety in unfortunate circumstances, and create an environment where everyone can enjoy a safe and enjoyable time.
Do you have a pet first aid kit for camping and/or hiking? If so, we’d love to hear what items make your “must-have” list!