Canine First Aid Kit

Published by


We’ve always been fortunate that Tessi hasn’t injured herself when we’ve been far from home. She’s suffered assorted wounds numerous times, however, in our village. Because of this, I’m motivated to carry a first aid kit when we’re away—just in case.

Since I need a first aid kit for myself anyway, I usually start with a basic one I’ve bought from the pharmacy. Then I add a few relevant canine items.

My Basic Kit Includes

  • Sting-free antiseptic wipes.
  • Antibiotic ointment packs.
  • Adhesive tape.
  • Assorted gauze dressings—pads and rolls.
  • Scissors.
  • Tweezers.
  • Disposable gloves.
  • An instant cold pack.

It contains other products, which I’ve noted are inappropriate for animals. For example, some of the topical applications, such as the bug repellent, which contains Deet, can be toxic to our dogs if they lick too much of it off.

Added Canine Items

  • Tick remover tool. (Our Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit offers a tick-info package, which includes one of these tools.)
  • A muzzle or a length of material that can be used as one, such as the gauze tape. (Even friendly and well trained dogs may bite when hurt.)
  • Nail trimmers.
  • Styptic powder or pencil to stop bleeding resulting from broken nails or superficial wounds.
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) to calm allergic reactions. (Before administering, get the proper dosage from your vet for your dog’s size.)
  • Vet wrap—a conforming tape that sticks to itself, not to fur.
  • Saline solution to rinse eyes.
  • Thermometer. Include lubricant (to ease insertion) and rubbing alcohol (to clean thermometer afterwards). A dog’s normal temperature range is about 38°C to 39.2°C (100oF to 102.5oF)
  • Towels, washcloths and (emergency) blankets.
  • Cotton balls and swabs.
  • I’ve never seen it mentioned; nevertheless, I like to carry socks and booties, just in case Tessi hurts a paw while on the trail. The covering can help protect the wound and any bandaging for the return trip.

To Note

I’ve read enough different views to be confused on what types of human pain relief medication is okay to give our dogs, so I asked Tessi’s vet (Dr. Fife, DVM, CVC, Fife Animal Hospital) for his professional opinion. He states that none are safe. He suggests using a cold compress—ice or one of the instant cold packs—to help ease any pain and swelling.

Also to Have Readily Available

  • Canine first aid manual
  • Phone numbers for your vet, an emergency vet at your destination (get directions beforehand) and poison-control centre (ASPCA 1-800-426-4435 or Pet Poison Helpline 1-800-213-6680).
  • Paperwork—rabies vaccination record, important medical records and a photo of your dog (in case he gets lost).
  • A temporary ID tag.

The list of items to include in a first aid kit is extensive; I could keep adding items. Depending on how far we hike, which is usually only a couple of kilometres or so at the most, I carry just enough to handle an emergency on the trail. I keep the rest in my travel baggage. (You’d obviously want to take more if on the trail for any longer length of time.)

Whether you travel or not,  you may want to consider taking a canine first aid course.

While out and about in our village, Tessi has suffered cuts from broken glass; a split, bent bloody dew claw, which tends to be a returning problem if I don’t keep it filed down; a facial slash from an angry muskrat; a serious bite from a neighbour dog; and embedded ticks. It’s a dangerous world out there. All I can do is prepare us as much as possible when facing it. 

 (c) Cheryl Smyth, 2014


Comments Off on Canine First Aid Kit