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Packing the Ultimate First Aid Kit for Your Dog

Aug 17, 2021

As a dog owner, you must always be prepared to address any medical emergency your pet might experience. Having a first aid kit ready and by your side can help you provide your dog with the appropriate medical care on-demand.

First aid kits for dogs typically include cotton, gauze, eyewash, antiseptic, and a set of essential medicines. However, you can also choose to include optional items like a tick nipper and milk of magnesia. Don’t forget to keep a copy of your pet’s medical records within the kit, too!

This article will explore the different products you should include inside a first aid kit for dogs and how you can use them to take care of your pet.

What should be included in your dog's first aid kit?

Below is a collection of essential items to include within your dog’s first aid kit:

1. Thermometer

Thermometer for a dog's first aid kit

Every first aid kit should contain a suitable thermometer to help measure your dog’s internal body temperature, allowing you to determine whether or not they have developed a fever. 

There are many different types of thermometers available in the market, including both mercury and alcohol versions. Unfortunately, both liquids are poisonous to dogs, which is why you should purchase a special pet thermometer that can measure body temperature through your dog’s ear.

2. Saline Water (Eye Wash)

Just like humans, dogs also experience pain and discomfort when unwanted particles enter their eyes, which is why you should make sure their first aid kit is equipped with the appropriate tools to handle the situation in case it ever arises.

Eyewash is a great way to help ensure your dog’s eyes don’t garner permanent damage if a foreign particle gets lodged there. A straightforward store-bought saline water mix (medical grade) works well, but you can also opt for a branded medicated eye wash instead.

Suppose your pet is highly active and fond of playing outdoors. In that case, they’re more likely to experience eye-related problems than quieter indoor dogs, making it extra crucial for their first aid kit to contain eyewash.

3. Gauze

gauze for a dog's first aid kit

Gauze is an essential element when it comes to dressing your dog’s wound. This fantastic meshwork of cotton net boasts highly absorbent properties, allowing it to soak in both blood and pus while keeping the wound covered, hence reducing the chance of recurrent infection.

Gauze works best when paired with the right medication and an effective antiseptic. It can also help hold medicated cotton pads in place when dressing a wound, which brings us to our next point.

4. Cotton

Cotton can help wipe away dirt and blood from a wound and pus from an infection. You can also employ cotton when adding medication or antiseptic to the wounded or infected area.

Cotton balls or pads work well for such purposes because they have already been fashioned into the ideal shape and size for most first aid processes. However, these tend to cost more than a pack of cotton wool that hasn’t been shaped yet.

So, if you’re on a budget, you can opt for cotton wool over cotton balls or pads. This type of cotton is generally packed into a neat cylindrical shape and can easily be found at your local pharmacy.

Avoid using raw cotton for medical purposes, though! Natural cotton contains seeds and dust, both of which can tamper with the wound’s healing process and may instead encourage infection.

5. Antiseptic

Alcohol swabs are an excellent and accessible way to clean away dirt and bacteria from the wound if you’re treating a human being. Unfortunately, alcohol swabs can prove toxic to your dog, so avoid using them!

This is because alcohol can easily be absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream in under 30 minutes. It can cause difficulty breathing, stomach problems, and, in severe cases, seizures that require hospitalisation.

Using a cotton ball dipped in antiseptic liquid is a much better way to care for your dog’s wounds so long as you’re using an antiseptic that has been deemed medically safe for pets.

6. Emergency Medications

medication for a dog's first aid kit

Dogs cannot consume human medication (like ibuprofen, for example), so be sure to purchase products that have been specially formulated for pets!

Different dog breeds may require other medication that is specifically suited to them, which is why it’s a good idea to consult your dog’s vet for a list of medicines to keep inside your pet’s first aid kit.

If you’re looking for some starter medication, buffered aspirin is an excellent place to begin. However, be sure to purchase the chewable version specifically made for dogs instead of human-consumption aspirin!

7. Milk of Magnesia

Milk of magnesia is an excellent tool that can help address your dog’s gastric problems. However, you should consult a vet before treating your dog with this product, as different dog breeds may require varying dosage sizes.

8. Tick Nipper

Unfortunately, where humans have lice, dogs have ticks and fleas. These nasty bugs tend to appear without warning and multiply extremely fast. They can make your dog ill with nasty skin infections or Lyme disease, which is why you should fully equip your first aid kit to deal with them!

Using your bare hands to weed out ticks and fleas is never a good idea. Beware, ticks can bite humans, too!

Luckily, you can employ a tick nipper/tool to remove fleas and ticks from your dog’s fur instead of having to tackle them directly with your fingers.

9. Comfort Toy

When ill or wounded, your dog may begin to feel overwhelmed or upset. This is especially true for puppies who tend to be extra sensitive to pain.

Many people like keeping a small comfort toy within their dog’s first aid kit to help their pet stay calm when treated for a wound or infection. Popular comfort toy options are pretend dog bones and rubber balls, but feel free to opt for any toy you know your dog will love.

Do you need two first aid kits?

Many people choose to keep two different first aid kits for their pet dog: one to store inside the house and another to stow away in the car to use on long trips or when you’re having a day out with your dog.

Some dog owners prefer filling both kits with the same products, while others feel it’s best to have a lighter first aid kit for their car and a more detailed one to store at home.

A lighter kit may contain fewer medical products but takes up less space and is easier to fit within your car’s trunk. On the other hand, having a kit complete with all the necessary products (instead of just the bare minimum) can help you successfully cater to a larger selection of first aid problems, as well as being able to save your pet from having to visit the vet at all.

Final thoughts

Now that you know what should be included within a first aid kit for dogs, you can begin to curate one for your pet. Be sure to include all the products listed above for a versatile, effective kit that can cater to most medical emergencies.

However, remember that while first aid kits are an excellent way to provide your dog with emergency care, your pet may require professional medical attention either immediately or in the future.

For example, if your pet has picked up a deep wound, taking them to the vet for a quick check-up is a smart idea. This will help you ensure that everything is under control and reduce the chances of a recurring infection.

The vet may also prescribe further medication, which is why it's important to see one if you feel like your dog's infection or wound isn't healing the way you'd expect it to, or if your pet isn't behaving the way it normally would and is instead whimpering, losing interest in their meals, or expressing low energy levels. Such signs could point to a larger medical concern that may require professional attention instead of help from a first aid kit.