Emergency Preparedness: Creating a Dog First Aid Kit
by Lynn Stacy-Smith
In my most recent blog I wrote about the hypothetical world of the television show The Walking Dead and what it would be like to be a dog owner in that world, which has been my entertainment obsession of the last month of so. Although that world is made up and as far as I know, not going to happen, there are other instances like natural disasters or man-made disasters in which some of the lessons learned from watching that television show can help, including making sure you have emergency medical supplies. In fact, in one episode of the show, a veterinary college storeroom played heavily into the story because humans and animals can often take the same medications.
Many of the items in your human first aid kit are useful for dog first aid emergencies but I prefer to have a dog specific kit. I recommend a water tight plastic bin for your dog first aid kit or a backpack or other bag that you can grab and go. Keep items separate in zip top baggies and also include a copy of your dog’s veterinary records and instructions for each product also in baggies. Remember that in an emergency you might not have your mobile phone or access to the internet, so going old school with written instructions can be useful or even lifesaving.
You can build your own kit entirely or purchase a dog first aid kit like this one from Kurgo and then add additional items to it. Here are some recommended items:
Bandages: Include a variety of sizes and types of bandages and band aids, including large and small, rolls of gauze, rolls of bandage tape, and square pads.
Feminine pads and tampons: These products can be surprisingly useful for medical emergencies and they are individually wrapped and clean. My dog Dutch wore a snug human tank top with maxi pads stuck to it after he had a large fatty tumor removed and it worked perfectly to keep the site clean and keep it from leaking on our carpets and furniture. I felt pretty silly adhering them each time and smoothing the wings out, but such is the life of a dog owner. Tampons can be used to stop the bleeding in bullet wounds and other puncture wounds.
Hydrogen peroxide & a measuring spoon: This can be used to induce vomiting; I suggest printing out instructions to include in your kit so you can access the correct dosage quickly. Put the bottle and spoon in a plastic bag and tape the instructions to the outside.
Cotton balls & cotton swabs for cleaning cuts, scrapes and wounds.
Buffered aspirin, Benadryl, Immodium, Pepcid AC and contact lense saline solution: Many over the counter medicines for humans can be beneficial in an emergency. Print out dosage information for your particular dog(s) and keep in a plastic zip top baggie with the medicine so that you do not have to scramble for the information in an emergency. Always check with your veterinarian on the correct dosage and safety information of these if your dog were to need them in an emergency.
This blog does not constitute medical advice; always contact your veterinarian before giving your dog any medicine that is not prescribed by them regardless of what you read anywhere on the internet.
Blanket: Include either a traditional blanket or an emergency foil blanket in your kit to keep your pets warm and dry.
Human t-shirt: This can help keep a large cut or wound clean in an emergency.
Muzzle: I am not recommending a muzzle for normal every day situations, but no matter how close you and your dog are, if she is severely injured, she could nip or bite when you are cleaning a wound or setting a broken bone. The last thing you want is for you and your dog to both be injured during an emergency situation. She will forgive you after you give her plenty of treats after it’s all done. This is a worst case scenario item and not something to be used on a regular basis or in an inhumane way.
Antibacterial soap: To clean your hands before tending to an injury or to clean out a wound.
Harness and extra leash: Always use a harness in an emergency situation, as a dog can slip out of a collar and run away in fear.
A way to carry your dog: Whether it is a SAR (Search and Rescue) type harness or a solution like a sheet or a big Sam’s Club or Ikea Shopping bag with slits in it for their legs, make sure you have a way to carry even a large dog if he or she becomes unable to walk on their own.
Scissors with safety/medical ends: To cut blanket, sheet, towels or gauze wrap or pads
Battery operated hair trimmer or safety razor: In case you need to shave hair to access a cut or wound.
Tick key or other tick removal device
Needle nosed pliers
Flashlight or head lamp
Styptic powder: Used to stop bleeding in torn or cut nails and superficial wounds.
Neosporin or similar antibacterial ointment
Apple Cider Vinegar: This can be made into an ear wash (50% water, 50% ACV), or mixed with water to be a paw soak, a hot spot spray, a food additive, and many other uses. Print a list of how you can use this natural remedy so you have it without relying on the internet.
Emergency Splints for broken bones or sprains.
Peanut Butter & spoon: This is the ultimate distraction for a dog if you have to tend to a medical issue.
Rubbing alcohol: Use to sterilize any tools before using them on your dog’s injury or wound.
Vet wraps: These are self adherent bandages that can be used on wounds, sprains, and other medical issues.
Dog care first aid book: Include a first aid book in your kit so that you do not have to rely on the internet or your mobile phone working during an emergency situation. The Pet Emergency Pocket Guide is easy to toss into your kit.
Map and addresses of local 24 hour veterinary clinics
Lavender Essential Oil can be soothing to anxious dogs and is so concentrated that you can simply let your dog smell the bottle or sniff a drop out of your own hands. Make sure you use only pure, good quality oils and not deodorizers masquerading as pure oils. Do not put on your dog topically or have your ingest any oils without asking the advice of your veterinarian.
In the next blog we will talk about what you should have on hand for emergencies that would put you in a position in which you have to evacuate your home or remain in your home without normal day-to-day services.