How to create a first-aid kit for dogs

Posted February 3, 2012

Unless a personal or national emergency is recent or imminent, today’s hectic pace often keep accidents and/or emergencies from the forefront of most people’s minds. However, it is vital to pets’ health that their owners not only consider, but plan for, how to deal with accidents and emergencies. A first aid kit is a necessity which, in addition to making minor injuries easier to manage, can also make the difference between a pet’s life and death.

The very first thing owners need in order to assemble a first aid kit is a suitable container. A sturdy, waterproof container, such as a fishing tackle-type box, is ideal as it will keep the items within clean and safe from damage. It is also advisable to clearly label the container as a first aid kit and include all pertinent contact information (primary veterinarian, nearest poison control center and veterinary hospital, and owners’ names, addresses, and phone numbers) in the event that the owner(s) is incapacitated or that other people less familiar with the dog(s) need to find or use the kit.

The next, and arguably most important, step is determining what items to put into the first aid kit.

While the contents will vary depending on each individual dog, there are basic essentials each first aid kit should contain; chief among these is a reference guide for canine first aid. This resource contains instructions on how to navigate myriad health problems, accidents, and emergencies.

To treat cuts and abrasions, it is important to include sterile non-stick gauze pads, adhesive tape, antiseptic (wipes, liquid, powder, or spray) and antibiotic ointment. Styptic powder helps stop superficial bleeding. Extra towels, bedding, or clothing is also useful to include because it can not only be used to apply pressure to bleeding areas, but to also stabilize an injured or broken limb. To this end, a splint should also be added. Because shock and pain from injuries can cause dogs to unwittingly bite, the first aid kit should also include a muzzle. A rectal thermometer, petroleum jelly, and hot/cold packs should also be considered.

Some wounds may require fur removal in order to be adequately cleaned and/or dressed; the kit should contain slant-tipped scissors, a disposable razor, and/or clippers (depending on the dog’s coat) for this purpose. Tweezers are useful for removing ticks or other embedded objects from dogs’ skin. A nasal aspirator or plastic syringe can be used in conjunction with sterile saline solution to flush debris from wounds, ears, and eyes; it can also be used to administer an emetic, such as hydrogen peroxide, to induce vomiting. A can of wet food is useful as it can help reduce the effects of poisoning.

Unfortunately, accidents will happen. Having a first aid kit will soothe owners’ inevitable worries and enable them to more effectively handle obstacles to their dogs’ health when they arise. Ideally, owners will create and continue to build their first aid kits to help ensure their pets stay healthy and happy.


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