Hopefully, you will never have an emergency with your dog, but, just as an emergency first aid kit is essential in your home and car for your family, so it is for your favorite Fido. In our experience, if you don’t have one ready, you are bound to need it! Kind of like not taking a raincoat with you when it looks like it will rain. Chances are, it does rain, yes? With a little planning, you can be ready for the rain, or most emergencies, with your pet.
Putting together the best dog first aid kit doesn’t have to be a big deal. All the supplies you need are easy to obtain from pharmacies, supermarkets, and even your Vet. My goal is to help you select what is right for your dog and your particular needs. Many items can also be used for your human family as well. Your Vet is also a good source of information as he/she may want to recommend additional items, specifically for your own dog, such as extra medications.
Before listing the items you need for your kit, my very first suggestion to you is to take a first aid course for your pet. I also suggest you require pet first aid training from anyone who takes care of your pets in your home.
Did you know that, as well as live, hands-on classes, the Red Cross now offers a Dog and Cat first aid course online? It only takes about 35 minutes to complete and it covers important information such as:
- How to determine your pet’s normal vital signs so that you will know if something is wrong
- Instructions, with visual aids, about what to do if your pet is choking, has a wound, needs CPR, etc.
- Tips on preventative care and information on how to keep your pet healthy
They will teach you what to do for your pet in virtually any emergency or life-threatening situation. At a cost of $25, I think this is an outstanding value.
Additionally, they have a Red Cross Pet First Aid App that gives you access to expert advice in an instant as well as an animal hospital locator and pet-friendly hotels (when you are traveling with your pal stateside), among other things. Is that awesome, or what?
There are some good first aid kits available that you can purchase online or at the pet store, however, if you put it together yourself, you can have peace of mind that you have included all the items you may need. Essential items are:
- Vaccination, medical records and emergency contact information (put in something waterproof)
- Medication as recommended by Vet
- Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting (don’t use if the dog is vomiting, choking or has trouble breathing)
- Hydrogen Peroxide (to induce vomiting-only do this when recommended by a Vet or poison control expert)
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Rubber gloves
- Blunt-nose scissors
- Different widths of gauze
- Sterile non-stick gauze pads for bandaging
- Spare bowls for food and/or water
- A couple of clean, old towels
- Spare leash/collar/harness
- Dog first aid book (Red Cross supplies if you do the course)
Very Good to Have
- Glucose Paste or Corn Syrup (for diabetic dogs or dogs with low blood sugar)
- A large bottle of Saline
- Benadryl (for allergic reactions) if approved by your vet. Get correct dosage for your dog’s size
- Styptic powder or pencil (to quickly seal small cuts or nicks)
- A pet carrier
- Cotton balls and swabs
- Nail clippers
- Bottled water
- Grooming wipes
Nice to Have
- Ear cleaning solution
- Expired credit card to scrape away insect stingers
- Rectal thermometer (your pet’s temperature should not be above 103 or below 100)
- Petroleum Jelly to lubricate the thermometer
- Rubbing alcohol to clean the thermometer
- Plastic eye dropper or syringe
- Tongue depressors
- Needle nose pliers (to remove thorns or, with vet’s approval, larger objects that have become embedded)
- Temporary ID tag (to put your local contact information on your pet’s collar when you travel)
- Any additional items your Veterinarian may have recommended specifically to your dog
Once you have created your first aid kits, you will want to put them in a sturdy plastic container that has a good seal to keep them dry and clean.
A Final Thought
At first glance, this list may seem to be a lot of stuff but remember that many items could also be used for children or yourself, or even to assist someone else or their pet. Even a neighbor’s pet could be having a problem and there you are, prepared and able to lend a hand immediately. Wouldn’t that make you feel great?
I recommend having two kits as well. One for your home and one for your car. If you are using a different car than you normally would on the day you take your dog out for a drive, make sure you transfer that kit over to the car you are traveling in. Simple, but easy to forget. Ideally, having a kit for each vehicle is the best. Then you don’t need to hassle with transferring it.
Finally, but very importantly, check all the kits you have occasionally to be sure that nothing has expired.
One of My Real Life Emergencies: Max’s Incident
I would like to share with you something that happened to me when I was looking after someone else’s dog while managing a remote private island resort in the Bahamas. The dog was a young, yellow lab named Max. It was hot and I was taking him out for his usual walk. He loved to run around on his little island and he had never had a problem before.
This particular day, he got himself overheated and started to show signs of stress. He was unsteady on his feet and seemed disoriented. His legs were starting to buckle. Luckily, we weren’t too far from the house (or I would have had to carry him and, believe me, I would have), and I managed to get him inside, out of the sun. I immediately started pouring cool water over his entire body, speaking in a soothing tone to him the whole time. He was lying on his side and looking up at me in such a trusting and loving way that just pulled at my heart. I am convinced he was smiling at me, I really loved this dog.
After about 15 to 20 minutes, I could see that he was coming back to normal. His breathing was steady and he was able to sit, then stand. It was at this point that I was finally able to call the vet on the mainland (the connection in this place was always sporadic, at best), who confirmed that I had done the right thing. The vet also said that, had I not acted promptly, the situation could have deteriorated quickly and we might have lost Max.
That, my fellow dog lovers, is the value of knowing what to do in an emergency. And all it took was something simple like getting him out of the sun and cooling down his body temperature.
I hope with all my heart that you never have an emergency with your dog, but please, do all you can to be prepared.
What other items would you add to this list, living where we do here on the Riviera Maya? Please let me know in the comments area and I will add them to this list.
Thanks so much for reading this and I wish you and your best fur friend happiness and safety in this beautiful place we are living.