Most households keep a first-aid kit for their families. But often unnoticed is the first-aid kit for the furry family member.
A cut paw, a bite during rough play, an upset tummy, toxic exposure, a bee sting, or an accident at the dog park. That’s just a shortlist of mishaps your dog may encounter.
Chances are you already have most of the items you’d need if your cherished canine got injured or sick. But, it’s a good idea to create a dedicated kit just for your pet so you can grab it quickly when an accident strikes. Even better, make it a portable kit so you can take it in the car when you’re out and about with your dog.
Here’s what the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, and other experts suggest you have in your pet first-aid kit:
• Emergency Contacts: List the phone number and driving directions of your regular vet and the nearest 24-hour animal hospital.
• Scissors: You don’t want to be looking for these when your pet comes in from the backyard with a bloody paw.
• Sterile Plastic Gloves: Anytime you see blood, use gloves to protect yourself and your pet from bacteria on your hands.
• Bandages: A spongy brand works best. Choose some that will stick when the fur is wet.
• Non-Stick Gauze Pads: Choose a size similar to the bottom of your pet’s food.
• Vet Wrap: A flexible bandage that sticks to itself, it’s a must-have for any pet first-aid kit. You can get it at your local pet store or from your vet. Be careful not to wrap it too tightly, especially with a toe or foot injury that may swell. Vet wrap will constrict a bit, and you don’t want to cut off the blood supply.
• Cotton Batting: You can buy this stuff in big rolls from the horse supply store; use it as padding under vet wrap.
• Cloth Tape: To secure bandages when you can’t use vet wrap.
• Neosporin: Triple antibiotic ointment; choose one with added pain reliever.
• Thermometer: A quick-acting human rectal thermometer works great for taking your dog’s temperature. A normal temperature for a dog should be between 100.5 and 102 degrees. (Don’t forget to mark the thermometer with a piece of tape so you don’t accidentally pop it in your mouth the next time you have the flu!)
• Vaseline: For the thermometer.
• Rubbing Alcohol: To clean the thermometer.
• Hydrogen Peroxide: To induce vomiting should your pet ingest something toxic. Always contact your vet or poison control (800-222-1222 or 888-426-4435) before using.
• Empty Toilet Paper Rolls: These work great as a temporary splint for a foot or leg or to protect a bleeding tail. Split it open to use as a splint or punch holes in it (for air) for an injured tail.
• Saline Solution/Eye Wash: The same stuff you would use for yourself. Use it as a rinse for shallow cuts or for something stuck in the eye.
• Antiseptic/Antimicrobial Cleanser: Use as a cleanser for deep cuts. Follow the directions for dilution on the packaging. Can also be used for soaking cut paws.
• Oral Syringes: Great for lots of stuff, including giving water to an animal that’s unable to drink on its own, dispensing liquid medications, or flushing out wounds.
• Benadryl: In case your pet gets stung by or decides to eat a bee and has a reaction. Do not dispense without checking with your vet first; write the proper dosage on the package you keep in your kit.
• Tweezers: Watch the beauty bark – the woodchips many dog parks use for ground cover. Your dog can get little slivers of this stuff in the skin above its nails. Also good for removing ticks.
• IMMODIUM A-D or Pepcid: This really helps with diarrhea or an upset tummy; give only according to your vet’s direction.
• Regular Medications: Also include medications your pet regularly takes or anything your vet has recommended for your dog’s specific needs.
Remember, if you see anything you’re not sure of – inflammation, swelling, odd behavior, discomfort – or you don’t feel confident attending to your dog’s injuries or illness yourself, call your vet. It’s also a good idea to know your dog’s normal temperature and heart rate (resting and stressed) and the color of its gums so you can easily assess if there is anything out of the ordinary. Write down this information and keep it in your kit, as well as any dosage directions you discuss with your vet.
Finally, if you’ve administered any home first-aid to your pet, it’s always a good idea to contact your vet and see if a visit is in order. Infections can be ugly and a trip to the vet is pretty cheap compared to the discomfort of your furry kid.