Like human children, your canine kids are not immune to cuts, burns, sprains, and other injuries, ranging from very minor to life-threatening. Because dogs can’t actually tell us what hurts and how much, it’s up to us to be on the lookout for issues and know how to manage them. This includes having first aid supplies on hand for slowing bleeding, cleaning and bandaging wounds, and administering other basic care until you can get professional help.
Note that first aid should not replace veterinary care — it simply buys time in an emergency. If you are wondering whether to go to the vet, it doesn’t hurt to call. They can often help you assess the seriousness of an injury and whether additional care is recommended.
Pet first aid kit checklist
- Nonstick, self-adhering bandages
- Adhesive tape
- Cotton balls or pads
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Antibiotic spray
- Milk of magnesia (used only under the direction of vet or poison control!)
- Digital thermometer
- Eye dropper or syringe
- Soft muzzle
- Microfiber towel
- Extra leash and collar
- Collapsible bowl
- Vaccine records
You can find most of these items — used for basic wound cleaning and bandaging — at a regular chemist. An eye dropper can be used for flushing wounds or administering liquid medication, while tweezers are essential for removing splinters or ticks. A soft muzzle may come in handy if your dog is in pain or not used to being handled, making them more prone to bite.
Finally, get a dopp kit or small tackle box for storage.
If you don’t want to assemble a kit yourself, you can actually buy pet-specific first aid packs of varying size and price points. Kurgo and Adventure Medical Kits are two brands that market pet first aid kits, including smaller versions for travel or outdoor activities.
Take a pet first aid course
While some very basic human first aid training is better than nothing, a little pet-specific knowledge could come in handy when working with an injured dog. The Red Cross has a 35-minute online intro course to cat and dog first aid, or you could reach out to shelters, rescue organisations, or dog boarding, daycare, and training facilities in your area to see what classes are offered in person.
Make sure you know the phone number and location of your closest emergency vet as well as your regular care provider.