You never know what little (or big) accidents are around the corner. Just as we have first aid kits in our homes and cars for our use, it is good to have some items specific for dog first aid as well.
Bandages and Wound Dressings
Bandages are a staple of any first aid box. If you are using traditional bandages you will also need some medical/microporous tape. Alternatively, adhesive (self-adherent) bandages are incredibly useful and definitely worth buying. Gauze is also useful to help protect wounds, injuries and stitches.
Cotton wool is useful for cleaning wounds. If you need something to use between a wound and the bandage, use gauze instead because cotton wool can be fluffy and stick to a healing area.
When my dogs seem down in the dumps or off their food for no apparent reason, I usually start by taking their temperature. It will probably be the first thing your vet does too. So a digital thermometer is a great piece of kit to have in your dog’s first aid box. Feeling their body, ears or nose will not tell you anything useful.
While dog’s can share some of our first aid items, it would not be hygienic to share a thermometer, especially as, to take a dog’s temperature, you need to put the thermometer in their bottom (ear thermometers are available but they can be expensive and less accurate).
Clean the thermometer with an antiseptic wipe and lubricate it with a little petroleum jelly. Insert the thermometer gently inside your dog’s bottom, about 1-3 inches. Wait the 1-2 minutes until it beeps and gently remove it. The normal temperature for a dog it not the same as for humans. Anything from 37.9-39.9 degrees Celsius is normal for a dog (100.2-103.8 degrees Fahrenheit).
As mentioned above, Vaseline is useful as a lubricant.
Tick Removal Tool
If your dog gets a tick, you want to get it off as quickly as possible and in one piece. It is important not to put any substance on the tick or to squash it or leave any parts of it in your dog. Please see The Best Way to Remove a Dog Tick. The recommended tool is the Tick Twister or similar gadget. I keep one in my dog’s first aid kit at home and one in the car or walkies bag too.
Not for removing ticks, unless you really know what you are doing but useful for removing any fiddly objects, stings, splinters etc…
A Recovery Collar or Vest
If your dog has a wound, stitches or any area you don’t want them to bother, you will need something like a recovery cone (lampshade) or medical vest. These items are specially designed to stop your dog reaching or bothering parts of their body.
There are various types of cone or lampshade. Your vet can probably provide you with a traditional hard plastic cone or a cone made of a softer material, meaning less bumps and inconvenience. There is also a blowup version of a recovery collar which sits around the dog's neck, but beware what parts of their body your dog can still reach. A dog recovery suit is also a great idea. They are comfortable, breathable and have many uses.
Antiseptic wipes, lotions or sprays are useful for cleaning wounds, instruments etc…
For insect stings and allergies. But make sure the brand you use is safe for dogs. Many human antihistamines are combination products. Avoid these for dogs, especially those that contain decongestant. If you are unsure, ask your vet for advice and carefully read the label to make sure nothing else is included.
Great for eye care, eye wash etc…
Disposable Surgical Gloves
This item is pretty obvious and cheap too. I mostly use them when emptying my dog’s anal glands but they are useful when you are treating injuries too, especially if your hands may not be 100% clean or you don’t want to infect yourself with anything.
Syringe (without the needle)
Handy for a number of things. I always keep a sterile and sealed plastic syringe or three in my dog’s first aid kit. Good for flushing wounds, getting soft recovery food into a dog’s mouth and administering water too, if your dog is sick and not drinking and you need to keep them hydrated.
If your dog is dehydrated, getting water into them is essential but they may also need some extra electrolytes. They often come in powder form and you add it to water, as directed on the packet.
Paw injuries can be more annoying than anything else. Each time your dog standard or walks, the wound can open again, seems to never heal and the dog can worry it and leave little blood stains round your home. A paw cover can be used to temporarily protect paw injuries.
Safer than normal scissors and can be used for cutting hair away from an injury, removing bandages safely etc…
Small pocket torches can be really useful if you don’t have adequate lighting at the scene or to help you to see into a wound or to make an inspection. Remember not to shine it in your dog’s eyes though.
You may think your dog would never snap or bite you but any dog in pain can be unpredictable. If you are doing anything at all that could hurt or worry them, it is best to put a muzzle on them first. It is better to be safe than sorry. A well-fitting muzzle designed specifically for this purpose can make you both feel more secure.
If your dog goes into shock or their temperature lowers for other reasons, a foil blanket can help them retain body heat.
Other Useful Tips
Tape your vet’s contact details and the telephone number of the out of hours or emergency vet to the lid of your pet’s first aid box so they are handy should you need them.
Common table salt is so useful. Dissolved in boiled cooled water, it is great for cleaning wounds and combating infection. It will be in your kitchen cupboards anyway but just because you don’t keep it in your pet’s first aid kit, don’t forget about this little miracle worker.
Pre-Packed Pet First Aid Kits
So that is everything you should need, but if you don’t want to start from scratch, you can buy ready-made pet first aid kits that contain most of these essentials.
I hope that has been useful
Have I missed anything off my list? Please do comment below if you have any essentials you would add.