Life is unpredictable. You never know when accidents can happen. So being prepared with a Service Dog first aid kit is important. While most will consider a first aid kit for hiking and camping, having one ready in your home is essential in case of accidents and natural disasters. Not just to treat your dog for injuries, but to have immediate access to necessary information and equipment in case of an immediate need for evacuation. In other words, your canine first aid kit can also act as your canine go-bag.
So where do you start in being prepared to keep your dog safe? First, is by programming useful contacts into your phone to ensure emergency numbers are immediately accessible and valuable time isn’t wasted. This includes:
- Poison Control such as the ASPCA Poison control hotline: 1-800-426-4435
- The closest 24-hour emergency hospital in your area, or the area you are visiting if you are on vacation (don’t wait until last minute, know who and where this is prior to departing on your trip).
- The name and number of your personal veterinarian.
Creating Your KitNext you want to have a dog first aid kit. You can purchase a pre-made kit or create your own. But even a pre-made kit will not have all the necessary pieces to it, and you will need to customize it to your dog. Keep in mind that not everything that works on humans is suitable for your dog. Never administer human drugs or prescriptions to your dog without checking with your vet first. You can check with your veterinarian during annual health visits to make sure you have appropriate dosages in case of emergency.
Where to Store Your Supplies:
The container, bag, bin, backpack, or whatever you will be storing supplies in should be durable and WATERPROOF, not water resistant (make sure to check as there is a difference between the two). This must be easy to grab and take with you. So, if you are using a bin make sure to pack it into a backpack.
- Like your phone, you will want to have a written copy of emergency phone numbers.
- You will also want vaccination and medical records on hand.
- Add a recent photo of your dog in case you are separated from him/her.
- Folding these papers and placing them inside a ziplock bag is a good way to keep them safe from water and keep them organized
- A dog/pet first-aid book for reference.
- Slip lead
- Muzzle (even if you are against muzzles please have one. You never know when it will be needed, especially during emergency evacuations. Some emergency modes of transport such as helicopters will require your dog to be muzzled)
- Flashlight or head lamp
- Collapsible food/water bowl
- A bottle of water
- A ziplock bag of your dog’s food
- A back-up supply of your dog’s medication if they are on any
- Absorbent gauze pads/gauze roll
- Vet wrap
- Adhesive tape
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
- Alcohol wipes (good to clean off thermometer with)
- Individual packed wet wipes (the individual packets will retain moisture)
- Ice pack
- Scissors with blunt end
- Foil emergency blanket
- Paper towels
- Oral syringe
- Liquid dishwashing detergent (for bathing)
- Styptic powder
- Artificial tear gel
- Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting—do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
- Non-latex disposable gloves
- Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
- Rectal thermometer (your pet’s temperature should not rise above 103°F or fall below 100°F)
- Sterile saline solution
- Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), if approved by a veterinarian for allergic reactions. A veterinarian must tell you the correct dosage for your pet’s size.
- Ear-cleaning solution
- Expired credit card or sample credit card (from direct-mail credit-card offers) to scrape away insect stingers
- Nail clippers
- Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
- Needle-nosed pliers
- Toxiban or other vet-approved activated charcoal (for use in certain poisoning emergencies)
Once your first aid kit is complete, make sure to check your pack every few months to check nothing has expired or needs to be replaced. Keep your kit out of the reach of children and pets. Finally, always remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your dog’s life until they receive veterinary treatment.