Are You Prepared for an Emergency? Part 1- Pet First Aid Kit

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With more people taking their dogs with them on hikes, trips and just out and about, it’s important to know how to take care of your fur-baby in the event of an emergency.

In this series about Pet Health, I will be going over the fundamentals of Pet First Aid. While I will be covering a variety of topics, please know that this information is not a substitute for professional veterinary care when it’s available.

Let’s get started!

Things  to include in a pet first aid kit.

  • Scissors– for cutting matted fur, cutting gauze, cutting netting or things your dog may be entangled in
  • Tweezers– to remove tiny foreign objects from wounds
  • Tick Remover Tool– Something you should have if you go hiking a lot or are outdoors frequently.
  • Sterile Eye Wash– To rinse foreign objects from the eyes, such as dust. Make sure you buy Eye Wash and not Contact Solution
  • Toenail Trimmer and Styptic Pencil (Or Cornstach to stop bleeding from torn toenails)
  • Tongue depressors– like the wide popsicle sticks at the Doctor’s office, these are great for looking in the throat or for use in splints
  • Cotton Swabs– for ointment application, and wound sterilization
  • Safety Pins– to hold bandages
  • Flashlight– to help you see down the throat, in the ears and in poor light
  • Emergency Blanket– the reflective types help insulate your pet and uses its own body heat to keep it warm
  • E-Collar– the “cone of shame” actually is very handy to keep your dog from licking its wounds and tearing out stitches
  • Spare leash– look for a nylon slip lead-one that doesn’t require a collar. If your dog is injured in the neck area, his/her neck may have swelling and their collar may not fit
  • Razor Blade– (wrapped for protection)
  • Hydrogen peroxide -small bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Medical Tape-1″ is the most ideal size. The white tape is easy to tear, and doesn’t require scissors.
  • Roll Gauze– Used for bandaging, to stop bleeding and as padding. Consider buying 1.5″ and 3″ widths
  • Vet Wrap-If you’ve ever seen a dog with a cast on, you’ve seen the colourful Vet Wrap on the outside. This bandaging sticks to itself and is semi-waterproof. Be careful not to wrap this too tight around your dog’s limb. You don’t want to cut off the circulation
  • Telfa Pads and Dressings-non-stick dressings for light wounds, or to protect dried wounds or sutures
  • Bandage Scissors-Unlike regular medical scissors these have a rounded end to them, ideal for slipping beneath bandages already on the limbs to remove them.
  • Antiseptic wash/wipes-Look for chlorhexidine or betadine (non-stinging formula) and stay away from rubbing alcohol on open wounds
  • Antibiotic ointment– Your basic Polysporin ought to do the trick. Use caution, as your dog may attempt to lick the ointment off, or the ointment may collect dirt and debris.
  • Vet-prescribed pain relief (NSAID- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)- Check with your vet to see what they would recommend for as-needed first aid kit pain relief drugs. Never use human prescription drugs as some, such as Tylenol, can be poisonous to pets. Once you’ve spoken with your vet, tape a card with the recommended dosage for each drug to the inside of your first aid box so that in an emergency you don’t have to try to remember which dosage was for what drug.

    For example:

  • aspirin: 5 mg per lb every 12 hrs (1 325mg tablet per 65lb dog per 12 hrs)

  • hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting): 1-3 tsp every 10 min until dog vomits

  • Pepto Bismol :1 tsp per 5lb per 6 hours (3-4 Tbsp per 65 lb dog per 6 hrs
  • Benadryl: 1-2mg per lb, every 8 hrs (65lb dog, 2-4 25mg tablets every 8 hrs)

As you can see, these doses are for a 65lb dog. if your dog weighs less or more than 65lbs then you will have to find the appropriate dosage.

  • Non-latex Gloves-to protect yourself and your pet when things get messy. (Some dogs have plastic allergies)
  • A muzzle– anybody who’s ever cut a dog’s nails knows how something trivial can upset a dog and lead to nipping. When your dog is already in pain and stressed out, he/she won’t like you prodding around and making its wounds sting–even if you’re trying to make them feel better. Be prepared, put a muzzle on them.
  • Thermometer– A dog’s “normal” body temperature ranges from 100.5 – 102.5 Fahrenheit (38 – 39.2 Celsius). Temperatures below 100 or above 103 are cause for a vet appointment. Most thermometers for dogs are used rectally.
  • Water-based lubricating jelly– for use with rectal thermometers
  • Cold and hot packs– keep a hypothermic dog warm, or a dog with burns, cool.
  • Benedryl– for stings and allergic reactions-speak with your vet about the proper dosage for your weight of dog
  • Large eye dropper/ syringe– to flush wounds, or administer fluids via mouth. Note: When administering medicine via syringe, insert syringe between jaw, and hold jaws closed with hand while squeezing syringe, instead of putting down throat and potentially injecting fluid into the lungs.
  • A list of phone numbers for your vet, local vet after-hours emerge clinics, animal poison control, etc. (Even better, program these numbers into your phone now!)
  • A photocopy of your dog’s health and vaccination records
  • A bottle of water
  • A Meta-Splint– for hunting/ outdoorsy dogs that may break a leg
  • A sturdy box to hold all of your supplies

You can also purchase pre-made Pet First Aid Boxes, however be sure to personalize them for your needs, as they are basic. Your dog may require different medical aid than others dogs if it has pre-existing health conditions, is very young or very old, etc.

Having a first aid kit for your dog (and yourself!) is important, but knowing what to do with it is even more important. Be prepared, and look into taking some pet first aid courses and do your research. Jive Media has an app called Pet First Aid for $3.99 on iTunes. It’s a handy app to have in case of emergency, and also has some tips on emergency preparedness, and planning for natural disasters. Also ask your vet what to do in emergency situations such as when your dog is bitten by a snake, prior to arriving at the Veterinary Office.

For those of you in the GTA there is a Pet First Aid course in Toronto on July 20th, Here.  I also recommend purchasing the Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook 4th ed.

Good luck with your first aid kits, and check back later for Part 2 in the “Are You Prepared” series!

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