By Tracie Korol
My friend called me recently for first aid advice for his dog, William, who had caught a dew claw in the back seat car upholstery. Blood was involved but the dog was otherwise all right. However, he did need a little first aid. My friend had some of the supplies needed to care for his Best Friend, but not all and none in the same place! First aid kit instructions were emailed post haste.
As a pet owners, we need to make sure to have basic first aid supplies for occasions such as this. Even the best-cared-for dog may become sick or get injured at some point in his life. If your dog falls victim to illness or accident, you will need to do what you can to get him out of immediate danger and keep him comfortable until you can get him to a veterinarian. You should also be prepared to care for you dog in the event of weather disasters occasional in this area.
Of course, you can always buy a pre-made K9 Crash Kit but I’ve found that personalizing a kit for my Best Friend — because who knows him better? — gives me a level of confidence when crisis hits. I don’t want to be rummaging through myriad glassine packets looking for a particular item when time might be a factor.
Your dog’s personal kit needs to be distinctive, easy to find, easy to transport and easy to use. I’ve had the same Huckleberry Hound metal lunchbox for just about as long as I’ve had dogs. Once a year I update the contents. I also have a smaller-size snap-lid box kit I keep in the car.
Taped to the inside lid of my big kit is a card with the phone number of my current vet, the closest emergency vet clinic (address and directions) and the Animal Poison Control Center (888-4ANI-HELP or 888-426-2235). At the bottom of the box I include a copy of pertinent medical records (in a Ziploc and a current photo (in case he decides to run at an inopportune moment). Tucked along the side is a lightweight slip lead. Along the other side I keep the Dog Only digital thermometer. Mine is a kid version with a blue dog head handle that I found at the grocery store. You do not want to confuse your people thermometer and your dog thermometer.
Next, I load the actual medical supplies: rolls of gauze — in a size relational to the size of the dog — for wrapping wounds or muzzling a panicked pet; a pair of blunt scissors; tweezers; nail clippers; and a Tick Key. Then, non-stick pads in a couple of sizes to control bleeding and protect a wound. I include a roll of adhesive tape AND a roll of duct tape for securing the gauze wrap. A dog may be able to tear through the adhesive tape in record time but duct tape will slow him down marginally. Also, a self-cling bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur. I also throw in a couple of baby-size sweat socks just in case I need to protect a paw or two.
Grouped together in another Ziploc is a tube of OTC antibiotic ointment, liquid diphenhydramine (Benadryl), saline solution (to clean a wound or flush grit out of eyes), travel bottles of Betadine, hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting if directed by Poison Control only), Milk of Magnesia (to absorb poisons) and a 10 cc syringe (no needle) to administer liquids. In the same bag I also include a bottle of arnica tablets (to reduce swelling), aconitum (for shock), calendula cream (for skin irritations) and bottle of Rescue Remedy that at a time of trauma we both can use.
In the category of You Never Know: a travel bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid to clean off oil or something sticky, an emergency foil blanket, a penlight (because emergencies happen at night, too), and a pair of needle nose pliers — there was that one time my lab thought touching a porcupine was a good idea.
When you personalize your own kit you can include items specific to your dog: karo syrup for a diabetic emergency or an EPI pen if your pet has a severe reaction to stinging insects. And finally, take a pet first aid and CPR class to learn more. And remember — the life you save may be your dog’s!