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You probably keep a first-aid kit in your home and in your car to take care of any small injuries that happen to you or your family, but have you thought of making one just for your dog? Not everything in a first-aid kit for humans is appropriate for dogs, and when your dog is suffering from an injury isn't the optimal time to figure it out. Here's how to easily put together a kit for your canine companion.
Learn canine first aid
Don't wait for an emergency to occur before you give thought to first aid. Know how to take your pet's pulse, monitor respiration and check other vital signs that can provide crucial information to you and your veterinarian should your pet need first aid.
When you're familiar with what is normal in your pet, it's easy to discern when things aren't right. For example, healthy pink gums that turn lavender or greyish after an injury can indicate low blood pressure, internal bleeding or other conditions that necessitate immediate veterinary care.
Although there are good online sources of information such as VCA Hospital's Pet Emergency Care Handbook, it's best to keep a hard copy of a canine first aid book in your kit. Select a spiral-bound edition that will stay open such as Dog First Aid by the American Red Cross. Large, easy-to-follow instructions and diagrams won't disappear when your screen savers come on, and you won't have to try to scroll through information while ministering to your pet.
Begin with the basics
Choose a sturdy bag to pack your pet's first aid supplies in. Red or another bright color will make it easy to see and find when adrenaline is running high. Label it "Dog First Aid" in large letters so it's obvious to your pet sitter or another caretaker for your dog when you're away. Include a card with important phone numbers such as your vet as well as the address of the office.
A muzzle is one of the most important items you can carry in your first aid kit, per VCA Hospitals. A fabric muzzle such as Guardian Gear Fabric Mesh Dog Muzzle is essential for times when your pet is in pain and more likely to react with a defensive bite to you touching their injury. It also keeps them from chewing through a leash to get away, licking wounds, or tearing away bandaging while you're transporting them to the vet.
Keep a Frisco nylon dog leash rolled up in your first aid kit. This can help keep your pet from running off and hiding under the bed or other inaccessible places in your home. It will also prevent your dog from running away or into traffic should you be out and about when an injury occurs. A second leash can give you the flexibility to cross-tie your dog to keep him in one place.
A spare collar can save the day if your pet lost his in injury situations such as a dog fight, getting stuck under a fence, or getting hit by a car. GoTags Personalized Nylon Dog Collar with your cell phone number is ideal to slip around his neck in the event he could escape your grasp. Injured, scared pets are prone to run off and hide, and an identifying collar will help reunite you quickly.
A towel or blanket is essential to keep your pet warm and comfortable, especially if he exhibits signs of shock such as a low heart rate or shivering. Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets take up minimal space and one placed below your pet can insulate him from the cold ground or protect him from hot pavement.
Nitrile exam gloves keep blood, dirt, poop, and other infectious matter off your hands. It also keeps any bacteria or foreign matter you have on your hands out of your dog's wounds.
Stock your supplies
Fill your kit with pet-friendly first aid solutions, bandages, and essential tools. Be sure to check medicine expiration dates every six months or so. Although using a slightly-out-of-date solution is usually fine, some products lose effectiveness or change in their consistency as they age past their expiration date.
- A Leatherman Style PS Multitool is an easy way to keep all the tools you need for first aid such as scissors and tweezers together in one place. The keychain style can clip to your kit's handle or interior loop, making sure it's always easy to find. Needle nose pliers make it easy to pull out a cactus or sticker; a wire cutter can help you free him should he get stuck trying to go through a wire fence.
- Get a free-standing flashlight like the Mychanic Blade Multi-Function Compact Directional Work Light to help illuminate an injury, check pupil responsiveness, or just bring more light to the area.
- Sterile saline solution for rinsing out wounds such as McKesson Saline Wound Flush.
- Pet-friendly first-aid ointments such as Remedy + Recovery Wound and Infection Medication for Dogs
- Consult your vet before adding other solutions such as hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, pain relievers, or any other medicines. You should never administer any human medication or remedies not prescribed by your veterinarian as it could interfere with your dog's care or even be toxic to them.
- Gauze pads and rolled gauze
- Self-adhesive wrap to hold gauze pads in place
- Cotton balls or cotton pads