How to Stock a First-Aid Kit for Your Dog

You can find most of the items you need for your dog's first aid emergency kit at your local pharmacy; the rest you can purchase from your veterinarian or from a dog supply catalog.

  • Adhesive tape. Use tape to secure bandages and splints. Make sure that you have a large roll, and replace it when it gets close to running out.

  • Alcohol swabs. Look for individually packaged swabs, which you can use to sterilize instruments or small areas of skin.

  • Aspirin (enteric coated). Check with your vet for the proper dosage.

    Never substitute ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aspirin. Both of these substances can be very toxic to dogs.

  • Athlete’s foot powder. Shake a little powder into an infected ear after cleaning it. If your dog is susceptible to ear infections, you can also shake a little powder into her ears once a week and after swimming, to prevent infection.

  • Bacitracin or Neosporin. Apply this or another antibiotic ointment to wounds that may be dirty and are likely to become infected.

    Never use these ointments in the eye. Special antibacterial formulations are used for the eyes, and these should be used only with your veterinarian’s recommendation.

  • Benadryl. Check with your vet for the proper dosage.

  • Cohesive bandage. Use this stretchy wrap to cover and secure gauze bandages. It clings to itself so you don’t need adhesive tape.

  • Cold pack. Use a cold pack to prevent or reduce swelling after a sprain or strain or to treat burns. Buy the kind that becomes cold when you fold the pack in half.

  • Cotton squares. You can use these to clean and protect wounds. They’re better for cleaning wounds than cotton balls because they don’t shed fibers when you wipe them over sticky areas such as where blood is drying.

  • Cotton swabs. Use these to clean your dog’s ears.

  • Elastic bandage. You can use this bandage to hold an ice pack to a dog’s leg, to wrap a sprain temporarily until you can get veterinary assistance, or to secure an injured dog to a makeshift stretcher.

  • First-aid instructions. Written instructions are necessary in an emergency when your focus is on helping your sick or injured dog, not on remembering the first-aid pamphlet.

  • Gauze bandage roll. You can use these to bandage wounds and to hold splints in place. Cut off a length of bandage and fold it up to cover a wound, or wrap the bandage around the leg to keep a cold pack in place or to secure a splint to the leg.

  • Gloves (latex). Any time you need to keep your hands protected or clean, wear a pair of latex gloves. They’re handy when cleaning up after a dog who is vomiting or has diarrhea and when you’re removing ticks with your fingers.

  • Green Soap or Hibitane. Stock a gentle liquid antibacterial soap for cleaning skin and wounds.

  • Liquid bandage. Use this instead of sutures to close a small, clean, recent wound.

  • Lubricating jelly. Use this to prevent gauze bandages from sticking to a wound.

  • Muzzle. You can use a length of gauze bandage, a belt, or a soft rope to make an emergency muzzle for your dog. Even if your dog has never showed signs of aggression before, if she is in pain or frightened, she may snap at you, so be sure to muzzle her for your safety and hers.

  • Penlight flashlight. Use a flashlight to look down your dog’s ears or throat — anywhere you need extra light. You can also use it to check whether a dog’s eyes respond to light in case of an injury to the head.

  • Plastic bags (resealable). These are handy for temporarily packaging items that are leaking, protecting open packages from drying, or collecting specimens such as fecal samples.

  • Razor blade (retractable) or blunt-ended scissors. Use these for cutting bandages and tape and for trimming the hair around a wound.

  • Safety pins. You can use safety pins to fasten bandages together if you don’t have tape.

  • Sterile saline solution. Use this to rinse out the eyes or to clean wounds.

  • Stockinet or bootie. Put one of these on your dog to protect a bandage on a leg or foot.

  • Styptic powder. Use this to stop small areas of bleeding, such as when you accidentally clip your dog’s nails too close.

  • Sun block. Apply this lotion to your dog’s nose or any areas of light skin if your dog has a thin coat.

  • Syringe. Use a syringe to flush your dog’s eye with saline.

  • Tweezers (flat-ended). You can use these to remove foreign objects such as ticks, thorns, and foxtails from your dog’s skin.

Be sure to keep a blanket in your car. You can use it to warm a dog suffering from frostbite, to wrap a dog who is in shock, or as an emergency stretcher.

Label each item in your first-aid kit with its name and expiration date.

Go through your kit every year, replacing medications that have expired or for which the labels have become hard to read, and replenishing supplies. Be sure to do this before you take a trip with your dogs, too.

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