Animal First-Aid and Wound Care

Whether it’s time to treat non-life-threatening injuries or serious trauma, emergency planning for pets should include preparation for any situation before it happens.




From pet insurance plans to vitamin supplements, healthcare for family animals has expanded in recent years. While many pet parents are committed to paying any sum of money to maintain pet health, most remain unprepared to address injuries at home, which could save tears, time and money. Stocking a home with proper first-aid supplies can help pet parents provide immediate medical attention to animals, which could potentially prevent further serious injury.


Situations that would require first-aid are events many pet parents would like to prepare for, but often don’t prioritize when shopping for supplies. When discussing pet health with customers, retail staff can provide invaluable help by suggesting products that will help families prepare for unexpected injuries.


“Pet first aid is not a front-of-mind issue for consumers, but once introduced, it is an easy sell,” explains Ed Berger of Margate, N.J.-based Groomers Helper, which distributes Clot It blood clotting products. “No dog owner that takes his pet to a dog park, or has a working dog out in the field, should be without a pet first-aid kit that has the capability to stop bleeding in an emergency so they can get their pet to professional help.”


Training associates and cashiers to ask customers if they are prepared to handle pet emergencies is an excellent first step retailers can take to bring attention to this important, yet often overlooked, issue. To forge a genuine connection with their clientele, retail staff must continue to learn about new developments in the pet first-aid market in order to educate customers, especially those who have performed their own research prior to shopping.


“Retailers can help customers choose the best products by really knowing the products they merchandise so that the retailer can field questions and make informed recommendations, and the pet parent will continue to utilize the retailer for advice,” says Dan Archetti, national sales director of Westmont, Ill.-based Pet King Brands, manufacturer of Zymox.


To bring greater attention to this segment of the market, Archetti also advises retailers to create a dedicated section for pet first-aid supplies within the skincare section of their stores. This method of merchandising sets apart these products, allowing customers and staff to easily locate first-aid supplies, which will reduce the likelihood that these items will be overlooked.


One of the most important facets of pet first-aid is taking preventative measures that will fortify an animal’s body to create a strong defense system. In addition to the obvious supplies for a complete first-aid kit, such as antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, anti-inflammatory products, bandages and sedatives, regularly cleaning areas on a pet’s body that are susceptible to germs is key to comprehensive preparation.


“It’s also worth noting that emergency preparedness is great, but preventative maintenance is crucial as well,” explains Geoff Hamby, marketing director for Rialto, Calif.-based Vetericyn. “Eye and ear care is a perfect example. By simply cleaning or flushing your pet’s eyes and ears on a regular basis you can greatly reduce the chances of irritation or infection.”


By preventing a problem before it begins, pet parents can keep animals comfortable and happy, while avoiding unnecessary costs of time and money to treat issues that could have been avoided.


Recovery and Healing in Retail

Thorough planning for first-aid and wound care includes products that can protect dressed wounds while pets heal. When choosing products for wound coverage and protection, retailers should consider pet comfort and recommend products that are easily stored for access in the event of an emergency. Covers and cones that fold with ease are excellent options for these situations, as traditional products may be difficult to work with during emergencies.


“Dogs and cats will gnaw, scratch and chew areas that are uncomfortable without the reasoning that it will do harm,” says Linda Markfield, owner of All Four Paws, maker of products such as the Comfy Cone. “Sometimes when a pet looks uncomfortable wearing a recovery device, like a plastic cone, we are more likely to take it off of them, resulting in longer recovery time and it can actually result in more injury.”


More consumers are also turning to natural forms of topical wound care, such as those that are cannabis based. Combined with other ingredients such as ucuuba butter, andiroba and wintergreen oils, cannabinoids (CBD) can aid in healing hot spots, dry skin, inflammation, paw recovery and insect bites, reveals Chelsea Gennings, vice president of business development at Littleton, Colo.-based Pet Releaf. While CBD goods are gaining greater acceptance, she warns retailers to remain selective about the products they choose.


“Whenever a retailer considers picking up a CBD product line, they should be aware that not all CBD products are created equal,” she says. “We foresee there being an even stronger focus on holistic first-aid options for our companions. Pet parents, more and more, are seeking out first-aid products for their pets that are all-natural, organic and entirely plant based.”


Through establishing their businesses as a knowledgeable resource for safe, effective and innovative pet first-aid products, retailers have an opportunity to become more than a store. By partnering with manufacturers to create educated sales teams who are consistently refreshing their knowledge, store owners and managers show a genuine concern for the health and well being of pets within their communities. PB


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