Dog First Aid Kit 101

All medical claims reviewed by Dr Pippa Elliott. BVMS, MRCVS.

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Are you or your dog ‘first aid ready’ in an emergency situation?

Could you bandage a cut paw or know how to disinfect a dog bite?

Both are common scenarios and great examples of why all dog owners need to be prepared for minor wounds, injuries, and other dog health problems. Prompt treatment may prevent infection or stop vital blood loss, which could make all the difference to your dog’s health (and your pocket!)

Dog First Aid Kit Duplicate

The savvy pet parent keeps two dog first aid kits: One at home and one in the car.

This is because the majority of the canine injuries requiring first aid happen whilst out and about.

Also human and dog first aid kits differ in subtle ways so it’s best to create a dedicated canine first aid kit. For example:

  • Safety First: Never use a safety pin to secure a dog’s dressing, use micropore tape instead. Dogs are more likely than people to swallow a safety pin, giving you a whole new set of problems.
  • Dangerous Disinfectants: Phenolic disinfectants can be dangerous for dogs. Common household disinfectants such as Dettol are toxic if licked or swallowed. Be sure to read the label, avoid phenolics, and use a pet-safe disinfectant.
  • Bite Worse than a Bark: A muzzle or a tape to use as a muzzle is a must in a dog first aid kit. When in pain even the gentlest dog may bite in his distress.
  • Sticky Situation: Adhesive dressing tape is a pet parent’s best friend when it comes to bandaging. It’s amazing how that paw-fect dressing slides off a paw if it isn’t secured with sticky dressing tape.
  • Bountiful Bandages: Bandaging a large dog requires a surprising amount of materials. Be prepared by being generously equipped with plenty of rolls of bandage.
  • Direct Contact: Keep a note of the emergency vet’s contact details in each kit, along with a map of how to get there. It might be someone else has to drive you there whilst you apply pressure to a bleeding wound.

Dog First Aid Kit Checklist

Here is our dog first aid kit list. How many of these first-aid items do you have close to paw so you’re equipped to cope with that unexpected injury?

Here’s the essential first aid supplies for pets (this list is just as important for ferrets or small pets such as hamsters.):

  • Vet contact details: Phone number (day and night), postcode, and a printed map. In the grips of a medical emergency, you’ll be glad to have this to hand.
  • Soft Muzzle: A soft muzzle doesn’t take up much room and is invaluable when handling a dog in pain
  • Hand sanitiser: So you don’t introduce infection
  • Foil blanket: To keep a shocked dog warm
  • Saline solution: Use generous quantities to flush wounds and remove contamination
  • Gamgee cotton wool: For cleaning wounds, apply pressure to bleeding, and pad bandages
  • Gauze swabs and other wound dressings: To place over a wound
  • Scissors: Round ended scissors for trimming back fur so as to see a wound more clearly
  • Styptic pencil: To stop that broken nail bleeding
  • Disinfectant: For wounds and bites
  • Non-adhesive dressing pad: Cover the wound with a sterile pad prior to bandaging, and it also prevents the dressing sticking.
  • Gauze bandage 7.5cm width: Keep at least 2 or 3 in the first aid box, more if you have room
  • Micropore: To secure the end of the bandage so it doesn’t unravel
  • Cohesive bandage: This bandage is self-adhesive (but doesn’t stick to fur) and is great as a covering for the gauze bandage.
  • Adhesive bandage dressing tape: To stop slippage
  • Tick remover: These handy hooks remove these parasites quickly and painlessly before they can spread disease
  • Tweezers: Speaks for itself…handy for removing splinters from a dog’s paw.

Consider keeping together in a cupboard ready for use:

  • Torch: Accidents often happen in the dark
  • Elizabethan collar: To prevent chewing or licking
  • Bath towel: Multipurpose as a blanket, to dry a soaking pet, or restrain him.
  • Pen and paper: To take notes or write down vital phone numbers
  • Plastic bag: To temporarily cover a bandaged paw to prevent it getting soiled
  • Electrolyte rehydration crystals: To prevent dehydration
  • Hydrogen peroxide 3% solution: To induce vomiting
  • Stainless steel kidney dish: An aid for cleaning wounds
  • 5 + 10 ml syringes: Great for irrigating wounds

First Aid for Dogs Priorities: Severe Trauma

Your dog has just been hit by a car and is lying unconscious in the road. What should you do?

Here’s what you should prioritise:

  1. Check for traffic, then remove the dog to a safe place, such as the pavement
  2. Check ABC (Airway, Breathing, Circulation)
    – AIRWAY: Open the dog’s mouth to check for obstructions at the back of the throat such as the dog’s tongue or blood clots.
    – BREATHING: Make sure the dog is breathing (If ‘No’, check for a heartbeat.) If there is a heartbeat but an absence of breathing, administer artificial respiration
    – CIRCULATION: Check for a pulse (If no heartbeat then administer cardiac compressions and full CPR)
  3. Control Bleeding: Apply pressure to vessels that are pumping out blood
  4. Warmth: Keep the dog warm
  5. Help: Only once the dog is breathing and any bleeding is controlled, should you phone for help.

Dog First Aid Priorities: Dog Bite

Your dog was bitten whilst out on a walk. What should you do?

Here’s what you should prioritize:

  1. Apply pressure to actively bleeding wound to stem the blood flow
  2. Check the dog over for other wounds
  3. Trim the hair away from each wound so you can see it clearly
  4. Use a copious saline solution to flush contamination from the wound
  5. Apply a mild, pet-safe antiseptic
  6. Contact the vet and get the dog checked

Be aware that bite wounds are like icebergs. The puncture may appear tiny on the skin, but there’s often a substantial pocket of damage lurking beneath. This needs checking out by the vet in order to reduce the risk of complications.

The use of antibiotic ointment as a first-aid measure is controversial. There is an argument that short term use leads to antibiotic resistance. Thus, if the wound did become infected afterwards, the bugs there are harder to deal with.

Dog First Aid Priorities: Cut Pad

Your dog steps on glass whilst swimming in a river and his pad is spotting with blood. What should you do?

  1. Briefly dunk the paw in saline solution.
  2. Dry the paw with cotton wool and apply pressure if the pad is bleeding
  3. Once the bleeding stops, apply a bandage.
    – Put a sterile, non-adherent pad over the cut, dress with a gauze bandage, and secure the dressing in place with adhesive dressing tape.
    – If the bleeding won’t stop, either keep applying pressure whilst you transport the dog to the vet, or apply a firm dressing and get to a vet
  4. Contact the vet and make your way there. The vet will assess if stitches and/ or antibiotics are necessary.

Dogs are much more resistant to tetanus than people, and because of this are rarely vaccinated against it.

Any pet parent should expect the unexpected, prepare for the worst-case scenario, and know what to do. But knowledge is as nothing if you don’t have the tools you need to manage the situation, so don’t be complacent and take action on your canine first aid kit right now!

Dog First Aid Priorities: Heatstroke

On a hot day, your dog is panting heavily, drooling, and lags behind. These are typical symptoms of early-stage heatstroke, so here’s what to do

  1. Get the dog out of the sun but without exerting them. For example, carry the dog to a shady place or air-conditioned car
  2. Offer plenty of water to drink.
  3. Wet their coat with water and dip their paws in cold water. (Avoid ice or very cold water, as this causes the small blood vessels to shut down, rather than open up)
  4. Have a fan blow air over the dog
  5. If the dog doesn’t improve within a few minutes, call the vet as an emergency.

Your pet’s health isn’t something to leave to chance. Invest in a first aid kit today!

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