Vets by nature have medical equipment to their disposal to help treat dogs suffering from all kinds of injuries, but the average dog owner is not so lucky and isn’t necessarily prepared either. There’s a limit to how much we can take with us when out and about, but there are definitely some essential items that we can carry on walks to ensure we’re prepared for any incident or accident.
First aid box
You can make your own first aid kit by adding supplies to any box, or small bag. You don’t need to carry it with you at all times but keeping it in the back of the car for emergencies is always wise. The specific benefits of a plastic first aid box are that it is tough and durable so you can be confident that nothing will be damaged inside it, while being lightweight enough to keep in the car at all times.
It’s useful to keep three different types of bandages in your first aid kit. A Melolin dressing for after the wound has been cleaned, an elastic bandage to secure it then a soft bandage, like Sofban, for padding. Another layer of elastic bandage can be used to hold it all in place.
If your dog is bleeding heavily, a pressure bandage can be applied. This is where layers of padding and tight elastic bandage are used to reduce blood loss. A pressure bandage should not be left on for long as it can cause tissue damage, but can be used temporarily before vetinary care.
Cotton wool can be soaked in sterile saline, dilute antiseptic or plain water to clean open wounds. Ideally wounds should be cleaned they are dressed. Cotton wool should only be used with plain water if you intend to wipe your dog’s eye or ear. Get antiseptic on the sensitive cells of the ear or eye can cause inflammation.
Tweezers can remove things such as splinters and wasp stings. You could also potentially use them to remove debris from a wound, although normally you should just wash and dress the wound before going to the vet. Basic tweezers from any chemist are fine.
This is for cleaning wounds, washing debris away and preventing contamination. If the dog is too uncomfortable when using the cotton wool you can spray the saline directly into a wound before dressing it. Prompt cleaning of wounds helps improve the chance of them healing quickly. Saline solution is available from any chemist.
A torch can help you examine areas that might have a foreign body embedded. You can also use it to check an unconscious dog’s eyes for a reaction and to see if a dog is bleeding from the mouth or eyes. Small pen-type torches are best because they are portable, have a powerful beam and a decent battery life. They’re also sturdy so make a great option for your first aid kit.
You can use poo bags for just about anything other than the obvious – they could even be used as a drinking vessel for your dog if needs be. You could also use a poo bag to protect a bandaged paw from mud and dirt.
Carrying water means you can always keep your dog hydrated if he becomes ill or injured. You could even sponge him with water if he is overheated. It could also be used to clean wounds (though sterile saline is best for this) and to wash off any dangerous substances your dog has walked through.
Tape is necessary to hold bandages firmly in place. Any tape will suffice in an emergency and can be found from any chemist.
Scissors can be an essential piece of kit in an emergency. Use it for disentangling your dog if they get caught in something, cutting fur away from a wound or trimming bandages to the right size.
Teaching your dog good recall can cause you a lot of trouble in the long run. It can stop them from running off, and potentially getting themselves into a lot of danger. A whistle can also be useful here too, but as always firm recall training is essential.
A magnifying glass is useful if a dog has a splinter or unwanted object in his foot so you can look at it closely in order to remove it carefully. As long as it magnifies slightly then any type of glass is useful.
When dealing with injuries always remember that first aid is not a replacement for a thorough check over by a vet – it simply improves your dog’s chances of responding well to the veterinary treatment.