Canine First Aid Kit – Are You Prepared for an Emergency?

Please welcome today’s Guest Blogger – Pat Boldt. She wrote this great article for us on preparing a first aid kit,  a must have in the event of a pet emergency. Many thanks to you Pat!

Are You Prepared For An Emergency?

“Be sure to consult with your veterinarian as to the application/use of medications and supplies referenced in this article.”

First Aid-what is it? Canine first aid is emergency medical treatment administered to your dog before professional medical care is available. How many of us are really prepared in case of such an emergency? If the injury occurs at a dog show you are probably in pretty good shape as there is always a vet on-site or close by. What about elsewhere? Do you have a first aid kit in your home, car or both?

I was at an Irish Setter specialty where a puppy was injured by another dog. There were some minor cuts and a bite-the dog needed some minor first aid and only 2 people out of almost 100 had first aid kits in their vehicles! My home medical supply area is pretty extensive and I expect most of us have a cabinet, drawer or actual kit somewhere handy! If you don’t, here is a starting point for a home or travel first aid kit.

Photo by Pat Boldt
Photo by Pat Boldt

Select an appropriate container that will keep all the items clean and dry. It should be easy to transport and if you are putting it in your car the likely storage place will be under a seat so measure for size. Tackle boxes and small utility boxes work very well and are usually water-resistant. Don’t put a lock on the box – in an emergency you need quick and easy access. On the other hand, make certain that your dogs can’t get into it and get into trouble. If you don’t want to start from scratch go to your local Sam’s Club or Costco and buy their first aid kit and modify it. I actually found this to be the least expensive way and I customized it to meet my dog’s needs. There is no harm in being prepared for you and your dog. You just need to make certain you understand what items CAN’T be used in the kit for your dog. Many human medications may be harmful or toxic to your dog. This can include many of the NSAIDS (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and an over the counter anti-diarrhea. Some Pepto antacids have had a change in their formulas to contain aspirin-like products – an alternative might be Pepcid AC or Zantac. However, please consult a veterinarian on what they feel is safe for your animals prior to using any human medications. Many of the items can be purchased from your local drugstore, a horse tack shop,  or online sources such as KV Supply or EntirelyPets.

Here are some basic items you will need (Customize the kit as you desire):

  • 2 rolls of 3-inch gauze bandage
  • Gauze sponges (several)
  • Adhesive tape (preferably non-stick)/Elastikon tape
  • Bacitracin/ neosporin/ polysporin type triple ointment
  • A clean bath towel or blanket to aid in transportation and warmth
  • Hydrogen peroxide (used as a cleanser and it can also be used to induce vomiting)
  • Betadine / xenodyne
  • Alcohol
  • Tweezers
  • Nail trimmers
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Scissors (preferably blunt tip)
  • Surgical glue
  • Plastic wrap (to seal wounds)
  • Bubble wrap (splint)
  • Honey/ Karo syrup (shock)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Duct tape
  • Kelly Forceps
  • Baby safe Q-tips for ear cleaning (has wide bulb tip-safer than regular Q-tips)
  • Nylon muzzle /gauze can also be used
  • Betagen spray (Antibiotic/Corticosteroid spray may be used for minor abrasions & hot spots)
  • Two empty 2 liter soda plastic bottles that you can fill with warm water in an emergency to keep your dog from getting chilled on your way to the vet are useful.
  • Vet wrap (The wrap is very useful to cover leg cuts-you can clean the wound, cover with a bandage, and then use the vet wrap to keep the bandage in place until you get to the vet’s office.) Used improperly this product can very dangerously cut off circulation-use cautiously.
  • Benadryl (for allergic reactions)
  • Pepcid AC (for upset stomach)
  • Activated charcoal (to absorb some toxins)
  • Epsom salts (for soaking feet, i.e., foxtail embedded)
  • Metronidazole or Flagyl (anti-diarrhea)
  • Saline solution or lubricating eye drops (can use contact solution, an eye wash or eye drops)
  • Ice-separate from kit, of course, but I try to keep ice available for ice pack if needed
  • Pedialyte (unflavored) especially during hot summer months.
  • Sterile disposable veterinary stapler
  • Disposable enema bag (for heat stroke to cool the dogs internal organs)
  • Arnica Montana/ homeopathy (for sprains, muscle soreness)
  • Thuja occidentalis/homeopathy (vaccine reaction)
  • Apis melliifca-homeopathy for bee stings
  • Nux vomica-homeopathy upset stomach

A copy of important phone numbers (place in the first aid kit). Make certain you include your own contact information! Include the name, address and phone number of your local vet. Include the vet’s daytime number, a reserve number, two-night time or emergency vet numbers, any local poison hotline numbers and the National Animal Poison Control Center (1-900-680-0000).

Also consider what would happen to your dog(s) if you were involved in a car accident while traveling with your pets and had to be taken to a hospital. On your contact information sheet, include detailed instructions as to who in your family or circle of friends should be contacted so that arrangements can be made to either transport the dogs safely home (if traveling with you), or arrangements can be made to care for your animals in your absence. If the dogs are with you and can’t be transported home, at least the emergency personnel can relay information to your contacts to provide temporary shelter for your animals while you are being cared for.

Some of you may be nurses or vet techs by trade and have access to additional items for your kits. Others of you may include a few holistic or homeopathic remedies. Customizing the kit is purely up the individual. I always add Arnica Montana (for bruises or minor aches and pain), Thuja occidentalis (vaccine reaction), pulsatilla (for false pregnancy symptoms), and Apis mellifica for beestings to name a few. If you discuss that you are putting together a kit with your vet, your vet will likely have additional ideas and be very helpful in assisting you. My vet suggested putting a Gentocin topical spray, an anti-diarrhea medicine, and a 3-4 day supply of any meds the dogs are taking regularly in the kit. All good ideas!

Once you have put your first aid kit together, make certain you know how to use everything. This is critical! Take a first aid class, read a book or ask your vet for information on how and when to use items in the kit.  Make certain that any medications are in dry containers and clearly marked with names, dosage and expiration dates.

I go through all my kits at least once a year to throw out expired medications and replace them.

What to do in case of an emergency?

Stay calm. Use common sense. Focus on your dog. If you are unable to deal with the crisis calmly, then delegate the responsibility to someone else.

  1. You can’t help your dog by having an anxiety attack! Time is critical.
  2. Assess the situation. Is it mild, moderate or severe? Is the dog getting better, worse or is it stable?
  3. Call your vet ASAP. Let your vet know you are on the way and the nature of the emergency.
  4. Keep your dog quiet and warm.
  5. Note any and all symptoms.
  6. If you suspect poisoning and cannot reach your vet contact the National Animal Poison Control Center for assistance.

Recommended reading:

K9 Medic How to Save Your Dog’s life During an Emergency by Eric “Odie” Roth

Maggie in t shirt attire
Pat Boldt photograper. Using tee-shirt to cover incision after surgery.

This photo illustrates using a tee-shirt in place of a cone on a bitch who had undergone a spay operation. Hind legs through armhole, tail out the neck, pin to size using dog collar to anchor it in place. Thanks to Maggie for modeling!

One thought on “Canine First Aid Kit – Are You Prepared for an Emergency?”

  1. This is good information; we always carry a first aid kit, but I had not thought about modifying one for the dogs.

    Like

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