Having a first-aid kit available for your dog is important, as you never know when your pet may become sick or injured and require first-aid treatment.
Administering first aid to your dog, regardless of how serious the condition appears to be, can help to calm the animal down and alleviate some of its symptoms.
Assess the situation
You should always assess the situation first before attempting to treat a sick or injured dog. The first thing to remember is to stay calm, as you won't be much use to your pet if you start to panic. If the situation is serious, you will need to contact a vet immediately and follow any instructions you are given. Having a concise first-aid kit will enable you to carry out a range of treatments on your pet.
Basic dog resuscitation
It is important to know what to do if your dog stops breathing. You will need to act quickly and calmly by gently pulling the dog's tongue forward to check if anything is obstructing its throat. You will then need to listen for signs of breathing. If the dog isn't breathing, you should extend its neck, close its mouth, and then carefully cup your hand around its nose and blow into the nostrils. Keep checking for a heartbeat or pulse. If there isn't one, you will need to vigorously compress the chest twice per second to achieve chest compression.
What your first-aid kit should contain
First-aid book - A first-aid book is the most important addition to your first-aid kit, as it will enable you to check anything you are unsure about and guide you through a range of treatments.
Vaccination and medical records - It is important to keep all your dog's information in one place, as it will enable an emergency vet to know your dog's medical history. It may also be a good idea to store any emergency phone numbers in your first-aid kit in case you lose access to them on your phone.
Medication - If your dog has any medication that it must take regularly, you should always store a backup supply of these medications in your pet's first-aid kit. It is also wise to include flea and tick medications and sedatives for travelling.
Disposable gloves - You should make sure that you have a few pairs of disposable rubber gloves in your pet's first-aid kit, as they should always be worn when dealing with medical emergencies.
Gauze, cotton wool, tape, and scissors - Cotton wool is always good for bathing wounds and gauze can control bleeding and act as a support for a suspected fracture. Tape and scissors will be required for preparing and administering the gauze.
Hydrogen peroxide - Hydrogen peroxide can be used for cleaning wounds and inducing vomiting if the dog has ingested something toxic. However, it is important to get professional guidance before administering hydrogen peroxide.
Antibiotic ointment - Antibiotic ointment is perfect for treating small cuts and scratches. It can also help to prevent infection and relieve pain.
Styptic pencil - Styptic pencils stop bleeding by sealing cuts quickly. They are perfect for treating broken nails or small wounds.
Eye wash - Eye wash solution is good for cleaning any debris out of the dog's eye.
Electrolyte replacement - Water is not always sufficient to treat dehydration and exhaustion, so a sugar-free form of electrolyte replacement can be used to speed up recovery.
Cold packs - A cold pack is perfect for applying a cold compress to the required area to decrease swelling and inflammation.
Digital thermometer - A dog's temperature needs to be taken rectally and should only be taken with a digital thermometer suitable for animal use. Thermometers designed for human use do not have a high enough temperature scale.
Tick remover tool - Dogs can get Lyme disease and paralysis, so ticks should be removed as quickly as possible. Tick tweezers are specially designed to remove the whole tick to avoid any infection.
Collapsible bowl - A collapsible bowl is particularly important if you are away from home. Make sure that you also carry a small bottle of fresh water around with you.
Torch - A torch can be useful in a first-aid kit, especially if you are camping somewhere with your dog. A torch can also be useful for scaring off any intimidating wildlife. Don't forget to include some spare batteries.
Wet wipes - When you are on the move, access to water can often be tricky. Wet wipes are perfect for cleaning up after any emergencies and wiping around the dog's ears and eyes.
Customise your first-aid kit
It is a good idea to customise your first-aid kit to include a few things that will help to make you dog feel more at ease in a stressful situation. You could add a few of your pet's favourite treats, a small toy, and a cosy blanket.
Take a pet first-aid class
Having a good first-aid kit for your dog is obviously important, but some items may be of little use if you are unsure how to use them effectively. Taking a pet first-aid course is an excellent way of preparing yourself for a variety of pet emergencies. These courses generally involve a mixture of theory, discussion, and practical tasks. The course will also help you to learn more about your pet and recognise when it is feeling unwell.
It is up to you to decide which items you should include in your dog's first-aid kit. Make sure that you store your dog's first-aid kit in a durable and waterproof container or bag that is easy to take out with you. Being prepared for an emergency is a crucial part of pet ownership, and it could even save your dog's life one day!