List of essential items to include in First Aid Kits for dogs, & the uses of each item.
|Essential Items||Use of the item|
|Bandage (small)||* To hold a gauze and/or sterile dressing in place while covering a small injury. The bandage should be applied and secured with tape* A small bandage can also be used to muzzle a frightened animal prior to treatment to ensure the first aider does not get bitten.* Another use might be as a tourniquet in the event of severe blood loss, but only as a last resort. It is however, important to remember that this should only be applied for a maximum of 15 minutes and should never be covered with a bandage. If a tourniquet has been applied, the dog should never be left unattended.|
|Bandage (medium)||* To hold a gauze and/or sterile dressing in place while covering a medium sized injury, to keep it free of bacteria and or control blood loss. The bandage may be applied and secured with tape or used in conjunction with an adhesive bandage.|
|Bandage (large)||* To hold a gauze and/or sterile dressing in place while covering a large injury.* Large bandages can also be useful when treating sprains or strains requiring stabilisation prior to veterinary attention. The bandage should be applied and secured with tape, while ensuring adequate blood flow to the extremities throughout. Application of a bandage with too much tension can result in the same effect as a tourniquet so care must be taken to ascertain the presence of capillary refill on a regular basis.|
|Bandage (vetwrap)||* For use in the treatment of strains and sprains as a stabilisation medium.* For application on top of a gauze or dressing to create a pressure bandage for the purposes of controlling blood loss.|
|Cotton Wool||* Cotton wool should never be applied directly to a wound because of the risk of fibres becoming embedded. It can be used to help soak up bleeding if applied on top of gauze.* Can be used as a pad to protect a wound prior to bandaging to ensure that a sensitive part is not knocked or banged. It will increase the comfort of the dog if the limb is wrapped with a cotton wool dressing such as Softban, prior to application of the bandage. This should NOT be used on a wound as the fibres will stick to the injury.|
|Adhesive Tape||* Used to secure gauze pads if no bandage is to be applied. * Used to tape down a bandage at the end of its application rather than using safety pins or tying knots.* If a pad or nail is injured and you need to stop the dog licking it, you may wish to apply something like a sock over the injury and secure this to the upper part of the limb with the tape.* To hold together a gaping wound which may require stitching by the vet.|
|Antiseptic Cream||* Once a bleed has been controlled and a wound has been cleaned, it is a good idea to apply antiseptic cream prior to dressing the injury. The antiseptic cream will help to prevent infection in the wound. Creams such as Sudocrem and Savlon are excellent|
|Sterile Dressings||* To apply directly to a wound to cover the injury and keep it clean. Skin is the body’s barrier to infection and if that barrier is broken, there is opportunity for bacteria to enter and cause infection.|
|Gauze||* Gauze is often used to cover an injury that is bleeding, prior to the application of cotton wool or bandages. The gauze will prevent the cotton wool fibres from sticking to the wound and becoming embedded in it.|
|Thermometer||* A dog’s normal temperature is between 100.5°F to 102.5°F (about 38°C to 39.2°C). A temperature over 104°F or under 99°F indicates an emergency situation. An elevated temperature is often a sign of infection, pain or stress (or just excitement). A temperature below normal usually indicates a debilitating disease or disorder. Thermometers are considered most reliable if used rectally, although thermometers specifically designed for use in the ear of a dog are also available.|
|Tweezers||* Used for the extraction of small foreign bodies in wounds such as glass, splinters, ticks or grit. Although objects such as grass seeds can be removed with tweezers, it is advisable NOT to try to remove anything from the ear canal including seeds or ticks as your attempt could make the situation worse. Please do not try to remove BEE STINGS with tweezers as this will merely inject the poison deeper into the dog – something like a credit card that can “scrape” the stinger out is always preferable.* Useful in ensuring a wound dressing remains sterile when applying it to the injury. If the first aider already has blood, dirt and debris on her hands, being able to open a dressing and apply it without actually touching the sterile area is very important.|
|Scissors||* For cutting away fur surrounding an injury prior to cleaning and dressing the wound. * For cutting any unwanted length of bandage when the dressing has been applied.* For cutting free long fur, a collar or lead should the dog have become entangled in something such as barbed wire, a fence or branches in the under growth.|
| * A first aider’s priority is always to ensure their own safety. Before treating any animal (or human for that matter) it is essential to wear gloves which will act as a barrier to cross infection and assist with general wound hygiene.* Gloves can also be applied should a wound on a paw need to remain water-tight. The paw can be slipped into the glove and then be secured with adhesive tape.* Because a glove is waterproof, it can also be used in the temporary treatment of such injuries as sucking chest wounds. If applied and stuck down across 3 sides (the top, left and right sides allowing the bottom side unstuck), a very successful draining dressing can be fashioned, which will prevent the chest cavity filling with blood en route to the vet.Its a good idea to carry a gas relieving product such as Windeze or something with Simethicone in it for occasions when your dog may develop bloat. Bloat is a life threatening condition and your fast action can make all the difference to the outcome.
Please check with your vet that he is happy for you to prescribe Imodium in cases of diarrhoea. Some breeds (usually listed as herding breeds such as Border Collies) may have a serious reaction to this type of medication which can be much worse than the diarrhoea so it is always best to check before administering any drug to your dog. That said, it is widely recommended as a safe over the counter product for dogs. Always pays to be sure though 😉
Rehydration sachets are for use following an extreme bout of diarrhoea or any form of dehydration problem.
Salt, mustard, hydrogen peroxide or washing soda crystals can all be used to induce vomiting in an emergency situation. Personally, I always use the washing soda crystals. If they are in crystal form, they can be swallowed as a tablet. If they are in granule form, mix with a tiny amount of water to meld into a lump and then this too can be administered to the dog as a tablet would be.
Other items (again, not an exhaustive list) that would be sensible to include as an addition in the kit:
|Other items to include||Uses for the extra items|
| Saline Pods
Cool (& heat) packs
| * To wash away dirt and debris from the eyes and other areas. Wipe away the excess fluid with a gauze swab or paper handkerchief. * To moisten a dressing prior to application when covering a serious burn during transport to the vet.Hibiscrub can be used for humans or canines. Simply dilute to a pale pink colour and then use as a sterilising wash to wounds or bleeds. Not for use in the eye – for eye injuries, use saline wash.
* Vinegar will neutralise a wasp sting* Bicarbonate of soda will neutralise a bee sting
Chemical cool packs (and heat packs) are fantastic. They lie dormant until you need them. There is a small device within the pack that you “snap” which causes a chemical reaction. This reaction causes the contents of the pack to freeze and become instantly cold (or hot in the case of heat packs)
* Whistle to attract attention – especially in the dark
|Foil Blanket||* To retain body warmth and help combat shock. * For use in cases of shock, hypothermia and when an animal is collapsed outdoors and needs sheltering from wind or rain. * To attract attention of rescuers as it affords a large silver target for view from air sea & mountain rescue helicopters etc.|
|Plastic Pouches||* To safely dispose of any used first aid products. Blood products need to be disposed of properly as they present a bio-hazard.|
|Alcohol-Free Cleansing Wipes||* To cleanse a wound prior to dressing it, particularly helpful when there is no access to clean running water|
|Torch||* Not all accidents happen during the day! * To check inside an ear canal.* To check dilation of pupils and reaction to light in the case of a collapsed animal which checking for response.|
|Emergency Number for the Vet||* Fast and direct communication with veterinary professionals in an emergency is a must.|
|Styptic Pencil||* For use with minor bleeds such as a snagged nail or dew claw, or a cut or graze.|
|Spare Lead||* Perhaps the injured animal is not your own, and another lead would help to calm and secure it while you tried to help or find its owner. * A lead can be used to loop around the top jaw and hold the mouth apart in the case of a choking incident allowing you access to the mouth and throat with less chance of being bitten while trying to help.|
|Antihistamine||* For use in cases of allergic reaction such as nettle sting, bee/wasp stings, various forms of bites and also incidents such as licking frogs/toads. N.B. Antihistamine should only be given having sought veterinary advice, to ensure that the right dosage and form of antihistamine is used. Antihistamines fall into the category of medications and should therefore generally only be prescribed by a vet.|
|Pencil/Paper||* Having the means to jot down information such as the heart rate/respiration rate of your dog means that you don’t have to remember all the facts. * Being able to note down what time an incident occurred or the instructions a vet gives you when you phone will make it much easier for you to take all the facts on board.|
First Aid Manual
|* Often even the best first aider can go to pieces under the stress of an accident. A good memory aid can be of significant help in an emergency.|
|Tick Picker||* If you notice a tick on your dog, try to remove it as quickly as possible. It is important NOT to squeeze the tick so a purpose-designed instrument like a tick picker will prevent this from happening. If the tick’s abdomen is squeezed it will inject contaminated blood from the tick into your dog.|