What to Put in a First-Aid Kit for Your Dog
Planning for a safe and fun outing with your furry pal is always a top priority. Putting together a customized first-aid kit just for your dog can go a long way in ensuring their well-being. It’s always better to be prepared for unforeseen incidents, be it bug bites, heat exhaustion or any accidental injuries that may happen during your adventures.
To help you out, here’s a list of items I typically pack in my dogs’ first aid kit. An explanation of their uses is explained in detail below. Modify it to suit you and your dogs’ needs – and always ensure to review the medication doses with your vet.
For a list of other items to pack for your dog, check out: Packing for Your Four-Legged Adventure Buddy
Cornstarch or Styptic Powder
Cornstarch or styptic powder can be used for minor bleeding or nail injuries. It is used to help stop bleeding by promoting coagulation and clot formation.
Gently apply and press the powder onto the wound, holding it in place for a few seconds to allow it to work.
Benadryl or Allergy Medication
Benadryl (the brand name for the antihistamine diphenhydramine) can be used to relieve itching, allergic reactions, or hives in dogs.
It can help reduce the symptoms associated with allergies, insect bites, or contact dermatitis. Although the general rule of thumb is said to be 1mg per 1 lbs of body weight every 8-12 hours, consult with your vet for proper dosage amounts for your dog.
Buffered aspirin can be used to relieve pain and inflammation in dogs. Buffered aspirin is preferable to plain aspirin for dogs, as it is gentler on the stomach and less likely to cause irritation or ulcers. It’s also good idea to give with a small amount of food to help minimize the risk of stomach upset.
The typical dosage of buffered aspirin for dogs is 5 to 10 mg per pound of body weight, given every 12 hours, however, consult with your vet. Use for the shortest duration necessary to manage your dog’s condition, as long-term use can have side effects.
Oral syringe and 3% hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide can be used to induce vomiting if a dog ingests something toxic. Use an oral syringe to pour the hydrogen peroxide directly into your dog’s mouth. Do not use it for non-toxic ingestions, as a general remedy, or if your dog has swallowed something corrosive or sharp.
Hydrogen peroxide should be used with caution, and you should consult with a vet to further prepare and discuss the correct dosage for your dog. If possible, contact your vet before administering as they may provide alternate advise based on your situation.
Pack and label any other medication your dog takes regularly. This includes prescribed medications as well as over-the-counter options. Not only will this give you peace of mind knowing you have everything your dog needs for their health while exploring outdoors, but accurately labeling the medication can also prevent any confusion or accidents from occurring (especially if someone else is helping you).
Tick removers are specifically designed tools that make the process more efficient and reduce the risk of leaving the tick’s mouthparts in the skin, which can lead to infection.
Additionally, take steps to prevent ticks in the first place, and regularly checking your dog for ticks, especially after outdoor activities in areas where ticks are prevalent.
(I always pack natural homemade repellent as well: Homemade Tick & Insect Repellent)
Emergency blankets, also known as space blankets or Mylar blankets, can be used for dogs s to help keep them warm and protect them from the elements while administering first aid in emergency situations.
These blankets are lightweight, compact, and have reflective properties that help retain and reflect a dog’s body heat.
Wrap bandages, also known as cohesive bandages or vet wrap, can be used for dogs to provide support, compression, and protection to injured limbs or wounds. They can help stabilize injuries and prevent excessive bleeding or further damage.
Wrap at the base of the injured area (e.g., above the wound or above the joint if you’re wrapping a limb). Gently and evenly stretch the wrap as you spiral it down the limb or around the injury. Ensure the wrap is snug but not too tight; it should allow for circulation but provide support.
Sterile Rubber Gloves
Sterile rubber gloves serve multiple purposes in providing protection for both you and your dog during first aid procedures. Although they can be used in several situations, their primary purpose is to:
- prevent the transmission of bacteria and pathogens
- prevent contamination in wound cleaning
Fine-tip tweezers can be a valuable tool for removing small foreign objects from your dog’s skin, fur, or paws.
Remember that if the foreign object is deeply embedded, the wound is bleeding heavily, or the situation is beyond your comfort level or expertise, it’s essential to seek immediate veterinary care. Attempting to remove deeply embedded or hazardous objects yourself can lead to complications and worsen the situation.
Non-adhesive gauze/sterile pads
Gauze provides several uses in your dog’s first-aid kit. Gauze can be used to:
- dress and protect wounds
- absorb blood and stop minor bleeding by applying gentle pressure to the wound
- clean dirt or debris from a wound or to gently wipe away discharge or blood
- provide additional protection and comfort around a splint or brace
- make a temporary muzzle to prevent the dog from biting when being treated. Make sure it is not too tight and allows the dog to breathe comfortably
Round-ended scissors, also known as blunt-tip scissors or safety scissors, are useful for when you need to trim or cut items near your dog’s skin or fur. These scissors have a rounded tip, reducing the risk of accidental injury when using them on or around your dog.
Tongue depressor sticks
Tongue depressor sticks, also known as tongue depressors or wooden tongue blades, can be used in dog first aid in a few specific ways:
- splint or immobilize an injured limb
- examine or assess the mouth, throat or teeth (only do this if you are experienced and confident doing so as as it can be uncomfortable or potentially harmful for the dog)
Pack a few of their favourite treats!
- During first aid procedures, your dog may be anxious, in pain, or uncomfortable. Offering treats as a reward for cooperating can help reduce stress and anxiety and encourage extended cooperation
- Many dogs are reluctant to take medication, and it can be challenging to administer pills or liquid medication. You can use treats to “hide” the medication
Pocket-sized first-aid book or guide for dogs
Having a quick reference tool on hand helps best respond to various health emergencies and administer first aid to your dog. Most books will provide clear instructions, often accompanied by illustrations or photographs, to help you.
Take some time to read through the first aid book and familiarize yourself with its contents. Pay attention to the organization and layout of the book, as well as the table of contents. Understanding how the information is organized will make it easier to find what you need in an emergency.
Copy of medical records
Although this is mostly useful for travel that crosses borders, (some places require your dog’s proof of vaccinations for entry), it’s also good to have in an emergency situation as there’s a good chance you’ll be bringing your dog to the nearest emergency vet instead of your regular vet. It’s also handy to have your vet’s contact information noted on the records incase you need someone to make a call for you.
Tip: Write down the proper dosage and expiration of medications directly on the containers you store them in in the first-aid kit (there’s no need to pack an entire bottle). Not only will this help prevent any uncertainty about using them, but it will make replacing them when they’re used or expired a breeze.
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The Foodie Behind the Screen
Hi there! I'm Bri.
I create and share nutritious and flavourful recipes for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers.