Accidents happen, this is a fact of life, that’s why they are called accidents. While we can’t prevent all of them from happening, we certainly can help to minimize our dog’s injuries turning into a big problem. Although most medical issues should be taken to a veterinarian, some minor problems can often be resolved by using basic first aid techniques. That’s why it is a wise decision to put together a canine first aid kit.
Many pet stores do sell first aid kits but they are very basic and have minimum materials. For example, some gauze rolls I find are too short and small to do a decent coverage. Dogs come in various sizes and have different lifestyles, so your canine first aid kit has to match up with it. Furthermore, it’s much more fun to assemble a customized canine first aid kit. For a fact, you get to play doctor-and-patient with your dog. Not only will you have more opportunities to practice, your dog will also get used to being “medically” handled. Try it, your dog will love it. I know my dogs do!
Canine first aid kit is not much different from ours, so you might just want to expand your first aid kit instead of having two kits at home. In any way, a canine first aid kit should include these items listed below.
Must-Have Tools and Materials
- Bandage (2 and 4 inches): To dress up wounds or sutures.
- Cotton ball and cotton roll: To place over wounds or stem blood flow.
- Elizabethan collar: To prevent the dog from licking the wounds where medication is applied or interfering the dressings or sutures. (make sure you get the correct size for your dog and try it out before storing into the first aid kit.)
- Gauze pads (2×2 and 4×4) and gauze tape: To dress up wounds.
- Hand or paper towel: To wipe off any liquid mess.
- Muzzle: To use on injured dogs, prevent from being bitten.
- Oral syringes (3cc and 15 ml): To administer liquid medicine (I keep them in a Ziploc bag so they won’t be soiled from the ointments and medications in the kit. It is also a good idea to keep a couple oral syringes in your cutlery drawer.)
- Plastic bags: To wrap over the bandages and prevent it from getting wet.
- Rectal thermometer (preferably digital): To check body temperature.
- Scissors (preferably with rounded tips): To cut the bandage material or gauze or to trim away fur before applying medication.
- Socks (used winter socks): To protect foot bandaging. Can be used to protect body bandaging for small dogs (cut the closed end before slipping it on)
- Surgical gloves (disposable ones): To treat wounds.
- Surgical tape (1 inch): To fasten dressing.
- Tweezers: To remove insect stings, ticks, splinters, and thorns.
Must-Have Ointments and Medications
- Antihistamine: To ease insect stings, bites, and mild allergic reactions.
- Antiseptic lotion: To clean wounds, especially animal bites.
- Buffered aspirin: To relieve minor aches and lowering fever.
- Kaolin or RuniPoo: To stop diarrhea.
- Eyewash: To flush out debris, seeds, or dust from the eyes and also to keep the eyeball (out of socket) moist. Contact lens saline is ideal but make sure you check the expiry date.
- Hydrogen peroxide: To use as a wound cleaner and induce vomiting especially after consuming poison substances.
- Petroleum jelly or Vaseline or KY jelly: To lubricate the thermometer before inserting into the rectum. Vaseline is also good for treating cracked paws.
- Styptic powder or silver nitrate: To stop minor bleeding from cuts or toenails.
Note: It is very important to check with your vet for proper dosage before administering it to your dog.
- Primary veterinarian’s name card
- Secondary veterinarian’s name card (if any)
- Holistic veterinarian’s name card (if any)
- Animal hospital phone number and address
- National Animal Poison Control Center number
- Your dog medical history. (i.e. medical allergy reactions, drugs frequently used)
- CPR manual
- Heimlich Maneuver manual
In addition, store these contact numbers in your cell and home phones. It’s not overdoing, you’ll thank me for it when emergency strikes! I strongly suggest you either laminate these cards and instruction manuals or put them inside a Ziploc bag. This is to protect them from getting wet or smeared by the liquid substances inside the kit.
Good-To-Have Tools and Materials
- Beach towel: To wrap around the body to keep the blood circulating in the case of shock or use as a stretcher to transport your injured dog.
- Hand torch: To inspect the mouth and ears.
- Ice packs (to be kept in the freezer): To bring down the temperature, especially a heat stroke.
- Plastic bowl: To use for bathing wounds.
- Bottled water or water bottle (at least 600ml): To hydrate your dog from severe dehydration or heat stroke.
How Often Should You Update Your First Aid Kit?
That depends. General rule is to update it once every six months or no longer than twelve months. If you have more than three dogs like I do, it is best to update it quarterly. You don’t have to replace every item in the kit, just make sure all oral and external medications are not dated or have turned mouldy (this is especially so if you keep it in a humid place.)
More importantly, remember to replenish what has been used up or are running low. It is a good idea to make a list of the items when you first set up the kit, so you would know what needs to be replenished.
And at the same time, check the validity of all phone numbers and addresses. I’m sure your veterinarians won’t mind an occasional hello visit from you, it would be great if you bring along a basket of muffins that both humans and canines love. hint! hint!
Where Should Canine First Aid Kit Be Placed?
Most people keep their human and canine first aid kits in the kitchen, while a minority of them put them in the store room (strange, but don’t ask me why)! As for me, I keep mine in the utility room which it’s situated between my kitchen and doggy bathroom. Some of the items (i.e. beach towel and ice packs) are too big and impractical to be in the kits however they are within my reach as they can be found in the kitchen and doggy bathroom.
Rather than focusing so much on the ideal place to put your canine first aid kit, keeping it in a common area would be ideal, it would be far more important that every family member knows where the first aid kit is located. That’s why you must update your kit periodically just in case you forget the location!
Having a complete canine first aid kit and update whenever it’s necessary are basic responsibility for any dog owners. With that said, you’ve only completed 60% of the emergency preparedness. By and large, most would know how to use the first aid kit during minor situations even without any formal first aid training. Problem is that most owners lack the confidence when dealing in an emergency. They’re also unable to remain reasonably calm and perform the task in an orderly manner before help arrives. The more critical is the accident, the more you must remain calm for the benefit of your dog and yourself.
Check with your local veterinary clinic or SPCA for any basic first aid course, and enroll in one of them. I assure you that it is well worth doing. Take a refreshment course if it has been awhile (i.e. 5 years) since your last one. Remember, your dog’s life DEPENDS on YOU.
About the author: Alissa Zucker is an essay writer at the essay writing service Mcessay.com. She is interested in reading classic and psychological books which give her inspiration to write her own articles and short stories.