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Welcome to SportyDogGuide’s How To Make A First Aid Kit lesson!
Dogs are remarkably resilient, but accidents can and do happen. That’s why every dog owner should own a dog first aid kit.
You may never need a dog first aid kit, but you don’t want to be without it should an emergency occur. This is particularly true if you’re away from home with your dog or it’s the weekend and finding veterinary care is either impossible or prohibitively expensive.
Be safe. Be ready. Commit to the kit.
There are many ready-to-go dog first aid kits for sale, but it’s easy enough to make your own. A basic dog first aid kit is designed for the immediate care of the usual hazards encountered by dogs. You probably already have some of these items in your medicine cabinet, and any surplus can be transfered to the canine first aid kit. Otherwise, you can purchase many of these supplies at a pharmacy. You can find the rest online. A small overnight bag can be used to contain the first aid items – or you can even put them into your dog’s backpack.
How To Make A Dog First Aid Kit
Dog First Aid Kit Essentials
- Vet Tape Rap – this tape is designed not to stick to hair and fur, making it perfect for dogs. It’s also breathable while offering compression support. Use the rap to bandage and protect wounds and sores. Store the rolls in a small plastic bag to keep them sterile and dry.
- Gauze Pads – sterile gauze pads are a staple of any first aid kit. They’re useful to cover minor cuts and scrapes, while letting air circulate around the wound. Keep a few small and large square and rectangular gauze pads in the kit.
- Adhesive Tape – a roll of adhesive tape makes it easy to secure gauze and other wraps around your dog’s legs and feet. Just like people, your dog will appreciate an “ouchless” variety of tape that won’t stick to skin and hair such as this tape from Curad.
- Cotton Balls – soft and absorbent, cotton balls are great for delicately cleaning around wounds.
- Antiseptic Wipes – these individually packed cleansing towelettes are super handy when you don’t have access to soap and water. They can help prevent infections and also provide some relief from insect bites and stings.
- First Aid Ointment – the go-to medication for use on minor cuts, scrapes and bites. Ointments will help relieve pain, prevent infection and promote healing.
- Styptic Powder – Groomers often use styptic powder to stop bleeding skin or toe nails that were clipped too close. It’s also great for first aid situations to stop bleeding from superficial cuts and nicks.
- Scissors – a small pair of scissors are handy for cutting gauze and tape, cutting away hair and anything else you might need to trim.
- Tweezers – with a set of tweezers, you can do everything from removing splinters and burrs to pulling a tick off your dog. You can use a larger pair of tweezers to remove porcupine quills. I’m speaking from experience!
- Magnifying Glass – a small magnifying glass lets you zoom in to find tough-to-see abrasions and debris.
- Disposable Gloves – keep a pair or two of latex-free gloves in the kit. They will not only help keep your hands protected, but ensure you don’t introduce dirt or other unwanted debris into your dog’s affected areas.
- Saline Wound Wash Solution – as the name implies, this saline solution is for rinsing and cleaning cuts, abrasions and wounds. Saline doesn’t burn or sting when applied, which is a huge bonus for your dog.
- The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center phone number: (888) 426-4435. You’ll get around-the-clock access to veterinarians with expertise in substances poisonous for dogs. There is a $65 fee to use the service, but in the case of emergency it’s a good call. I’ve used it before when one of my dogs ate an avocado pit and needed advice on what to do. Best to just program it in your phone, too.
- Mini Flashlight – a small flashlight with a bright LED light can be very helpful if you’re hiking deep in the woods on an overcast day or out early in the morning, late afternoon or after dark. Being able to see is vital when your dog needs help.
- Hydrogen Peroxide – if your dog swallows something hazardous, you can administer hydrogen peroxide orally to induce vomiting. It’s also an excellent cleanser and sanitizer.
- Emergency Thermal Blanket – thin, foldable mylar blankets take up little space and weigh only a couple ounces. But they are far more valuable than their size would imply. When wrapped around your dog, these blankets can preserve up to 90% of body heat. They also do double-duty to keep rain, snow and other moisture out. These thermal blankets from Swiss Safe come in multi-packs, so you can put one in the dog first aid kit and the others in the car or with camping gear.
- Tongue Depressor – the tool for when you need to look into your dog’s mouth or throat.
- Instant Cold Pack – with a simple squeeze and shake, instant cold packs become cold compresses. Use them to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
- Cotton Swabs – great for working in around your dog’s ears as well as for applying ointment to small areas.
- Comb – a cheap – but sturdy – plastic comb can help remove unwanted stickies and other nasties such as fleas from your dog’s hair.
- Collar – if your dog somehow breaks free from his regular collar or the collar becomes damaged, you’ll be very glad to have a back-up emergency collar in the kit.
- First Aid Guide – for those times when you’re not sure what to do or in the event of a true emergency, a first aid guide for dogs can be a lifesaver. There are several excellent manuals available, such as A Field Guide to Emergency Care for the Outdoor Dog, that cover injuries including choking, snakebites, shock, broken bones and more. Get a first aid guide and read it before you and your dog need it.