Having a well-equipped dog first aid kit can be just as important as having first aid supplies for your human family members. You never know when emergencies might occur, especially if you and your four-legged friend are participating in agility training, where accidents and health problems can be common. But even if you're just taking a routine trip to the dog park, it's always best to be well prepared.
So what exactly do you need to have in a first aid kit for dogs? Well, the idea is similar to a human first aid kit and you'll actually want many of the same things, such as rolls of gauze, cotton balls or swabs and cold or heat packs. You'll also want a variety of medical tools such as tweezers, scissors, needle-nose pliers, syringes, nail clippers, a penlight and some disposable gloves, and clean cloth or paper towels.
Of course, dogs can have some unique needs and you'll need to be prepared for these as well. Having some sort of bitter substance to prevent licking is always useful in a dog first aid kit. So too is an eyedropper and some towels—one to use as a stretcher and another to wrap around your dog to prevent hypothermia. You may also want to include a rectal thermometer and a stethoscope for determining your pet's vital signs and of course a pet carrier for safe transport.
Since navigating the sharp edges and rough surfaces of some agility training courses can lead to cuts and wounds, you'll want to have bandages and bandaging materials available. Along with sterile gauze pads and non-stick pads, you'll also want first-aid tape, both the adhesive and easy to remove paper type. Bandage rolls like Vetwrap are a good idea to include as are human band-aids in case you need some help as well.
Aside from these basic tools, a good dog first aid kit should include items for nutritional support. These can be particularly helpful if your dog becomes overheated or dehydrated while doing agility training or just running around at the park. Gatorade or Pedialyte can both be useful for rehydrating and nutritional supplements such as Nutri-Cal or Nutristat can help reduce recovery time and improve your dog's physical condition. At the same time, a high sugar source like Karo syrup should be kept on hand to provide a necessary energy boost.
You'll also want to include some medicines for treatment purposes. Many medicines designed for humans can also be applied to dogs, including wound disinfectants, antibiotic ointment, eye wash, sterile saline, and Cortisone spray or cream to combat itching. Activated charcoal can help absorb ingested poisons and hydrogen peroxide can be used to induce vomiting in dogs but both should only be administered per a veterinarian's instructions.
Finally, you'll want to include a couple of canine specific medications in your dog first aid kit. Pet Pectate or some other antidiarrheal medication made for dogs can be useful. So too can an ear cleaning solution. The ears are one of the most delicate parts of a dog's body and they should be treated with particular care, using only products designed specifically for this purpose.
An active dog is a healthy dog, but all that activity can sometimes lead to unforeseen circumstances. With a well stocked medical kit on hand, you'll be able to breathe easier knowing you are prepared for any eventuality. That way you and your dog can get out there and compete or just have some play time and enjoy yourselves.