First Aid Essentials Every Dog Owner Needs

Just like human children, your dog children are not immune to cuts, burns, sprains, and other injuries ranging from very minor to life-threatening. Since dogs can’t really tell us what hurts or how bad, we need to be on the lookout for problems and know how to deal with them. This includes having first aid supplies on hand to slow bleeding, clean and dress wounds, and provide other basic care until you get professional help.

Note that first aid should not replace veterinary care – it simply buys time in an emergency. If you are in doubt about whether to go to the veterinarian, it does not hurt to call. They can often help you assess the severity of the injury and the need for more help.

Pet First Aid Kit Checklist

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMA), there are a few essentials you need to gather for your first aid kit:

  • Gauze
  • Non-stick, self-adhesive bandages
  • Scotch
  • Cotton balls or pads
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Antibiotic spray
  • Milk of magnesia (only used under the direction of a veterinarian or poison control officer!)
  • Digital thermometer
  • Pipette or syringe
  • Flashlight
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Soft muzzle
  • Microfiber towel
  • Additional leash and collar
  • Collapsible bowl
  • Vaccine Records

You can find most of these items, used for basic wound care and dressings, at your local pharmacy. A pipette can be used to clean wounds or administer liquid medicines, while tweezers are needed to remove splinters or mites. A soft muzzle may come in handy if your dog is in pain or not used to being picked up, which makes him more prone to biting.

Finally, purchase a doppa kit or a small tackle box for storage.

If you don’t feel like putting together a first aid kit yourself, you can buy pet first aid kits in different sizes and at different prices. Kurgo and Adventure Medical Kits are two brands that sell pet first aid kits, including smaller versions for travel or outdoor activities.

Take an animal first aid course

While some basic human first aid skills are better than nothing, a little knowledge about pets can come in handy when dealing with an injured dog. The Red Cross has a 35-minute introductory online first aid course for cats and dogs, or you can contact shelters, rescue organizations or dog care centers, nurseries and training centers in your area to see what classes are offered in person.

At the very least, read AMVA’s basic animal first aid procedures . Then make sure you know the phone number and location of the nearest emergency veterinarian and health care provider. The ASPCA also has a 24/7 Pet Poisoning Helpline at 888-426-4435 – please note that they may charge for phone consultations.

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