You probably have a basic first aid kit for yourself and your human family members. Band-Aids, peroxide, and rubbing alcohol are staples in nearly every home. However, are you prepared with a first aid kit for your dog? Although there are similarities between a canine first aid kit and a human one, there are a few key differences that can dramatically help in the case of a pet emergency.
What to Include in a Dog First Aid Kit
While you can find pre-made dog first aid kits on Amazon, it's pretty simple to make one at home. Whether you buy one or make one, it's a good idea to keep your pet first aid kit separate from your human one so items are easier to find. A first aid kit for your dog should include:
Emergency phone numbers - your vet, closest vet ER, and poison control
Gauze - for wrapping wounds
A muzzle - animals in pain have a tendency to bite!
Adhesive tape - for securing gauze bandages. Do not use human adhesive bandages
Digital thermometer - must be inserted rectally
Large syringe - *without needle*. To flush wounds and eyes
Sterile saline - for rinsing wounds and eyes
Hydrogen peroxide - clean small wounds and induce vomiting
Activated charcoal/Milk of magnesia - to absorb toxins in the stomach
Children's Benadryl - for minor allergic reactions
Disposable gloves - to protect yourself
Tweezers - for removing ticks, splinters, and other small irritants
Book on pet first aid
Other items that are important to have within reach:
Towels and blankets
Something that can be used as a stretcher - a door, board, large blanket, or floor mat works
When to Call a Veterinarian
It's important to know when an injury can be treated at home, and when a call to a vet or animal poison control is needed.
When to Call Immediately
Under some circumstances, you should call a veterinary ER or animal poison control before moving or administering any treatments at home
Ingested or exposed to toxins
Seizure - time event and keep animal warm
Suspected broken bone
Severe wound or injury
Severe allergic reaction
Always keep the closest veterinary emergency hospital number in your first aid kit as well as on your phone in case of emergencies. It's also a good idea to have the number for animal poison control where you can easily find it.
Animal Poison Control: (888) 426-4435
It's always better to be safe than sorry, so don't be afraid to give the vet or poison control a call if you are worried.
Injuries and Illnesses that can Wait
There are some injuries or illnesses that aren't true emergencies, even if they seem scary in the moment. You may be able to wait to call your regular veterinarian in the case of:
Minor injuries such as broken nails or limping
Vomiting and diarrhea without the presence of blood or toxin ingestion
You know your dog best, however. If something just doesn't feel right, there is no harm in calling the veterinary ER in your area to get their opinion.
Dog First Aid You Should Know
In the middle of an emergency, whether it's with your dog or someone else's, it's important to have a few first aid skills to assist. Watch videos and learn how to perform:
Canine Heimlich (for choking)
Recognize signs of shock and heatstroke
You can easily find step-by-step instructions and videos on YouTube, or here from the AVMA.
Pet emergencies are scary. It's important to be ready in case something serious happens, because we all know our pets can get into some trouble! The best thing you can do for your pet in the case of an emergency is to stay calm and know who to call.