Dogs are family (duh), and it’s fun to spoil them with cashmere sweaters and mini bottles of Dög Pawrignon. However, what pet owners really need to give their four-legged BFFs are well-prepped first aid kits. Nothing replaces a trip to the vet, but, in a pinch, you’re going to want everything on this list stocked and ready to go in case Lola needs some quick medical attention.
Here’s What to Put in Your Dog’s First Aid Kit (Yes, You Should Have One)
A Sturdy Container To Hold Everything
Investing in a durable, portable container to hold all your dog first aid items is a must. Some kits are sold pre-packed, but they tend to offer only the bare essentials. Pro tip: A plastic container with a removable tray or organizational dividers will make life much easier when you find yourself searching for a particular item during an emergency. Be sure to label this kit “DOG” so baby- or pet-sitters don’t use the wrong stuff for the wrong kid.
An Emergency Guidebook
Purchase a guidebook that offers at least basic first aid protocol for pets. Some guides are short and sweet pocket references, while others, like The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats, instruct readers on how to identify troublesome symptoms in an animal, what to do in cases of heatstroke and how to administer CPR, among other invaluable skills that could save your pet’s life.
Waterproof Important Information
Putting all veterinary, contact and medical information for your dog in one spot is smart. Making that spot waterproof and including it in your doggy first aid kit is genius. Phone numbers, addresses and vaccination records should all go into a waterproof document bag. Include your personal info, your vet’s info, a number for the Animal Poison Control Center, the nearest animal emergency clinic, your dog’s medical history, and even a photo of you and your dog, for identification purposes.
Non-latex Disposable Gloves
Just like people, some dogs have allergies to latex. The Humane Society recommends stocking pet first aid kits with non-latex gloves for use when assisting dogs and cats. This keeps their wounds clean, your hands protected, and is just overall best practice for any type of medical care.
Non-Latex Gloves ($5)
Sterile Saline Solution (9%)
Before dressing a wound on your pet, it’s a good idea to flush it out with a sterile saline solution. And yes, it’s possible to make a sodium chloride and water solution at home, but who wants to think about ratios when your pup’s crying?
Pet-specific (aka self-clinging) bandages are key—people Band-Aids with strong adhesive can rip out fur or irritate dog skin. Wrap bandages that are FDA-approved offer pups breathable yet supportive wound coverage, and in these bright colors, they make the healing process a little cheerier.
Scissors will be necessary to cut bandages or gauze, and you’re not going to want a pair that could easily pierce you or your dog during the process. Any scissor with rounded tips or labeled “blunt” is perfect (think kindergarten craft scissors).
Hydrogen Peroxide Solution (3%)
A 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution is good to have in case your dog swallows something poisonous and needs to get it out of its system quickly. Disclaimer: Always contact an Animal Poison Control Center before administering hydrogen peroxide or any other vomit-inducing product. If you are given the go-ahead, you’ll want this on hand to help your pup regurgitate as soon as possible.
To give an animal a specific dosage of hydrogen peroxide or any other product advised by a vet or poison control, using an eye or medicine dropper makes dosage measurements super simple and quick. It can also be used to flush out wounds with saline solution before wrapping cuts in self-clinging bandages.
Having a pet thermometer intended specifically to take dogs’ and cats’ temperatures rectally is critical. It’s really difficult to get an accurate reading from ears (as some pet thermometers are designed to do). Pet temperatures should hover between 100 and 103. Rubbing alcohol and petroleum jelly will also come in useful should you need to take a temperature; the alcohol sterilizes the thermometer and the jelly makes insertion more comfortable.
Tweezers Made Specifically For Dogs (and Ticks)
Tweezers designed specifically for outdoor, tick-prone dogs are must-have tools. In particular, tick tweezers are amazing because they uproot ticks from dog skin swiftly, without any extra digging. Dogs are susceptible to Lyme disease, so regular tick checks are advised. Tweezers are also great at extracting bug stingers or other foreign objects from paws and skin. Fun tip: If you can’t find tweezers and need to get a bee’s stinger out of your pup, using the side of a credit card works well for this kind of extraction.
An Extra Leash (or Two)
Honestly, how many times have you misplaced the leash? When you need it most, like when you’ve got to wrangle your sick, hurt or frantic dog to the vet, having a spare for just such an emergency is going to be a lifesaver. Plop a sturdy leash (or harness) into your doggy first aid kit. It also can’t hurt to add a muzzle of some to keep your dog from licking or nipping during first aid. Even an old necktie or towel can help subdue an animal while its wounds are cleaned and dressed.