As things are starting to open up, many of us are taking trips with our Greyhounds, to hike or camp. It’s good to be prepared even if you’re not traveling in case of an accident or other emergency, like a natural disaster. Just like you have a first aid kit for the humans in your home; it’s important to keep one handy for the canines in your life. Many of the items in a family first aid kit can be used for pets, too. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet's life until you can get to the vet. In those moments, you’ll be glad you have a first aid kit handy.
You’ll need a bag, backpack, tackle box or some kind of container to hold your first-aid supplies – preferably one that is portable so you can take it with you to where your dog needs treatment.
Two things you will want before you start assembling supplies: 1) a list of your dog’s medications, along with emergency phone numbers (vet, emergency vet, poison control hotline). Time counts in an emergency! A paper copy is good in case the worst happens and there’s no electricity or internet and you forgot to charge your phone. 2) A basic pet first aid book (many available online).
Here are a few items you should always keep in your dog’s first-aid kit:
- Bandaging supplies: gauze pads, gauze roll, non-stick pads, self-stick bandages (vet wrap), cotton balls, cotton swabs, paper and adhesive first aid tapes (tape over bandages, not fur)
- Blunt nose scissors, tweezers, eyedropper, penlight, magnifying glass, nail clippers, styptic pencil
- Disposable gloves, wet wipes, paper towels
- Hydrogen peroxide, petroleum jelly, saline solution (contact lens solution), antibiotic gel or ointment, wound spray
- Benadryl, milk of magnesia, activated charcoal tablets
- Bottle of water and collapsible bowl, dog treats (for distraction)
- Muzzle and spare leash or slip lead, and poop bags
Some other things that would be good to have on hand:
- Rectal thermometer
- Instant ice pack or hot/cold pack
- Coconut water (electrolytes), Pedialyte, or Gatorade
- Small socks or dog booties
- Disposable razor for shaving around wounds
- Blanket or compact thermal blanket
- Old sheet or towels, plastic wrap, duct tape
- Dish liquid for cleaning dog skin (rinse well) or removing sticky stuff
- E-collar or other restraint to protect wounds (old t-shirt, etc.)
I have written before about Rescue Remedy and Calms Forte. These are mild homeopathic sedatives safe for people and pets.
Check with your veterinarian to see if any other over the counter medications would be OK for your dog, and how they should be administered. Aspirin can help pain in dogs, some antacids may help indigestion, milk of magnesia or kaopectate for nausea, Benadryl for allergic reactions, including bug bites and stings. Check with your vet BEFORE you have an emergency so you know what dosages are safe for your dog.
In case of poisoning, try to determine exactly what your dog got into, then check with the Poison Control Hotline or your vet before doing anything. Some substances are just as harmful coming back up, and in that case stomach pumping ASAP is the only answer. If you need to get your dog to vomit, 3% hydrogen peroxide is often recommended. Activated charcoal and milk of magnesia are sometimes given after a dog ingests poison, but again, check first.
Hopefully, you will never have a need for an emergency first aid kit. But in the event that something bad happens, be prepared by having a first aid kit on hand for your dog.
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