Most of us keep a basic first aid kit for people in our homes and possibly our cars, close at hand and easy to find and get to in case of any emergencies or minor bumps and accidents. It is also a great idea to keep a basic first aid and emergency kit for your dog too, as dogs are just as likely to be prone to minor accidents and the odd scrape! Having the tools that you will need readily available to take care of any minor incidents or to take care of your dog while you get help or contact the vet is important, and can help to ensure that you do not waste time searching for equipment or panicking if something untoward should happen.
It is always best to be prepared, and keeping a canine first aid kit alongside of your regular first aid kit is a great idea for all dog owners. If this seems like a sensible idea to you but you are not sure what should be included within your kit or how to organise it, read on to find out more.
What should your canine first aid kit be made of?
First of all, you will need a suitable container to house your first aid equipment, which can consist of anything from a large Tupperware box to a specially designed first aid kit bag or case. It can be easy to underestimate the size of the container that you will need, in order to fit everything into it and make sure that everything in your kit is easy to find in a hurry. You might find it easier to collect together everything that will include within your first aid kit first, and then later on source a suitable container to hold it all.
What goes into your kit?
The equipment and tools that you should keep in your canine first aid kit are as follows.
- A simple reference guide to canine first aid and accident management is a great place to start, as this will provide you with an at a glance guide to most of the minor problems and accidents that you might face.
- Alongside of the book, keep a list of the phone numbers and contact details for your local vets- both the vet that your dog is registered with, and if possible, the details for an alternative practice in case for any reason your own vet is unobtainable in an emergency.
- You may also wish to keep your pet’s veterinary records and vaccination papers in your first aid kit as well. It can be helpful to keep everything together and ensure that if you need to grab the kit in a hurry to accompany your dog to your own vet or a new practice, all of their health data and vaccination history is to hand as well.
- Keep several pairs of latex gloves (or latex free for allergy sufferers, either canine or human) within easy reach in your kit.
- A pair of blunt, rounded end scissors for cutting dressings and bandages is essential.
- A tick twister tool is useful to have, to quickly remove any ticks that your dog might acquire when out walking.
- A pair of slanted-edge tweezers are handy for many reasons, including removing splinters and thorns.
- A packet of cotton wool balls is always handy, although these can shed fibres so should not be used for dressing wounds.
- A roll of gauze and some gauze-covered pads are essential, to dress wounds and apply dressings with.
- A gentle but effective dog-safe skin disinfectant and cleanser should be near to the top of your kit for cleaning wounds.
- A direct wound spray is also handy for cleaning and disinfecting small cuts and grazes.
- A tube of antihistamine to treat any stings, bites or allergic reactions of the skin.
- A large bore sterile syringe (without a needle) is handy to keep, in order to enable flushing or irrigating wounds or eyes.
- A bottle of a good quality antibacterial skin wash such as Chlorohexidine is important, both for washing wounds and cleansing your own hands before and after touching any wounds.
- Antibacterial wipes can also come in handy.
- A rectal thermometer is important in order to be able to take your dog’s temperature, and it is handy to keep with the thermometer a note showing the normal healthy parameters of the dog’s temperature.
- A jar of Vaseline or petroleum jelly in order to comfortably use the thermometer on your dog.
- A small jar of honey (the type of size that is often provided with breakfast in hotels and restaurants) in case of any blood-sugar emergencies. Honey is preferable to raw or refined sugar, as it is more easily digestible and gets to work faster.
- A pot of styptic powder, a special powder that reduces bleeding and promotes clotting. This can be useful to stem the flow of bleeding if your dog damages a claw, as claws often bleed profusely when injured.
- A range of bandages, wound dressings and pads that can be used to stem the flow of blood from wounds while you seek veterinary help.
- A muzzle that fits your specific dog. Many dog owners will immediately discount this suggestion due to their dog’s usually good natured temperament, but a hurt, frightened dog that is in pain may well lash out or bite, even when faced with someone trying to help them.
Other useful equipment to keep in your kit can include a torch, a spare lead, a blanket and possibly, even some emergency funds such as a £20 note in case you need to take a taxi to your vets in a hurry.
Veterinary surgeons will treat pets as required in an emergency and arrange for payment to be made later in the day or by arrangement, but taxi drivers, unfortunately, will not usually work under this same arrangement!
Once you have your kit made up and ready to use, make sure that you keep it somewhere accessible and easy to find; and that you remember where it is! Hopefully you will never need to use it, but even so, the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you are prepared for any emergency involving your dog makes is eminently worthwhile.