Our canine companions are like family to us. Just like our human family members, it’s important to be prepared in case someone gets hurt, that's why we keep first aid kits around the house. So what about our four-legged family members? What kind of items should we have in our first aid kits to help them when they get hurt?
What’s in the Box?
When it comes to humans, The Red Cross recommends the following items be put in a first aid kit--
- An emergency phone
- Various ointments
If you’re interested in the full list of recommended items for a human first aid kit you can find it on The Red Cross’s website. It’s important to remember that most first aid kits won't include all of the items found on The Red Cross’s list. So what about a first aid kit for dogs? Is it any different?
The first item you’ll want to make sure you get for your canine first aid kit is some non-stick bandages. Unlike humans, dogs tend to be covered in fur. As a result, regular adhesive bandages will stick to their fur and make them uncomfortable. They can also be hard to remove without cutting off your dog's fur or causing him/her discomfort. That’s why you’ll want to go with non-stick bandages. These can be wrapped firmly around the dog's wound and provide the same function as standard sticky bandages. A pack of six is recommended and if you can find some that are waterproof that would be even better!
Here is an example of what this kind of bandage looks like. Isn’t that paw print design adorable? Image courtesy of Amazon.
The next item you should include can commonly be found in human first aid kits, cotton balls. Cotton balls are helpful when both cleaning wounds and applying ointments. Their soft and absorbent nature allows you to treat your canine companion with minimal discomfort. There really aren't any canine-specific cotton balls that you need to worry about getting. Pick up a pack for your human first aid kick as well as a pack for your pet's first aid kit.
Tweezers are an excellent choice for any canine first aid kit as well as any human first aid kit. Our pets love to run around and play, especially outside. It isn’t uncommon for dogs to run into prickly bushes or thorny vines. Having a pair of tweezers on hand can help you treat these kinds of wounds quickly and effectively. It should be noted, if your dog had a run-in with something like a porcupine or a hedgehog, or it has thorns in its face, it is advised that you take your dog to see a doctor as soon as possible. Porcupine quills can be difficult to remove and the longer they remain embedded in your dog's skin the more complicated it will be to remove them. That said, do not try to remove them yourself! Leave it to the professionals.
There aren’t really any specific types of tweezers that are recommended for dogs. Standard tweezers like those shown here should be just fine. Image courtesy of Amazon.
I’ll admit, this one isn’t the nicest item to think about but it is important so we shouldn’t ignore it. A muzzle is used if your pet becomes erratic or aggressive due to an injury. This device will prevent your dog from biting you or anyone who is trying to treat its wounds, while also allowing it to breathe comfortably. I personally recommend a soft muzzle as it’s more comfortable for your dog and it can be adjusted to fit multiple different-sized dogs. A towel or cloth can be used in place of a muzzle in emergency situations where you don't have one, but this will be more uncomfortable for both you and your dog.
Here is another “fun” one. It’s a good idea to add a thermometer to your dog's first aid kit, but not just any thermometer. You're going to need one that is specifically designed to check for fevers. Standard thermometers won't go high enough to register your dog's fever. You also won’t be able to take the dog's temperature the same way we humans do it. Fever readings for dogs need to be taken rectally. Yeah, I told you this was a “fun” one. Another reason you should have two separate thermometers, one for human oral use and one for canine rectal use.
Here is a picture of a happy doggo, to take your mind off the last two items. Image courtesy of Unsplash.
Medical spray or antibiotic ointment is another highly recommended pick for your canine first aid kit. This item can provide your pet with some much-needed relief while treating wounds. It is highly advised to clean wounds first before applying medical spray and bandages. This is another item that will require you to find a type of spray/ointment that is safe for use on your dog. It’s recommended that you speak with your veterinarian about what he/she recommends for your pet. Regular human ointments may be harmful to your dog or not effective enough.
Milk of Magnesia
Here is our final item for this list and one that you may not have heard before. Milk of magnesia. Milk of magnesia is used to treat poisoning and will result in forcing your dog to vomit up anything it’s eaten that may have been poisonous. This does not work for all poisons. You also need to contact a medical professional before giving this to your pet. They will guide you on whether or not a dosage is needed and if so how large or small the dosage should be. It’s an item that you likely won’t need to use but is great to have in certain situations since it could save your dog's life. A substitute for milk of magnesia is activated charcoal. It serves a very similar function. If you have questions, talk to your local veterinarian about which option you should get for your canine companion.
Here is another cute dog picture to lighten the mood. A healthy dog is a happy dog! Image courtesy of Unsplash.
So, that’s it, seven of the best items you can add to your canine first aid kit. There are a few extra items that you could add if you have the room for them--
- A towel for drying your dog off if he/she falls in water
- Eye flush for if your dog gets something in its eyes
- Benadryl for bee and wasp stings
- Scissors for cutting the bandages in your kit
Just like with The Red Cross list, I'm sure you can find other items that would be great for the first aid kit, but aid kits often only have so much space and are ideally able to be taken with you anywhere you go without too much hassle. So this list picked items that are both helpful and portable. Hopefully, you learned something new and are better prepared for any emergency regarding your canine companion.
Want to know more about vets and their work? Check out this blog!
And here is a link to another blog that discusses how to treat your dog's heat rash.