Dog emergencies can happen at any time. Being prepared – having some basic kit and knowing what to do with it - can maximise the dog’s chances of making a full and speedy recovery.
Exactly what you'll need in your kit depends on how high risk your dog and situation are. Things to consider:
What activities do you do with your dog?
Where do you exercise your dog?
Is there a particular illness or injury dogs of this breed are especially prone to? (e.g. spaniels and grass seeds)
How portable do you need your kit to be?
If, for example, you only walk dogs on lead on the streets or park near to your house, you may be fine with a basic kit that can stay in your car or cupboard at home.
If, instead, you exercise your dog in remote locations and/or your dog participates in high risk activities such as agility or working, you may need a more comprehensive kit which can be worn about your person.
Whatever your situation, there's some key items any dog first aid kit should always contain:
Wound dressings – sterile and non-adhesive, various sizes. These form the first layer of any bandage.
Bandaging materials – there are three types of bandage:
Above: wound dressings & bandaging materials are an important part of any dog first aid kit.
NOTE: a Badly applied bandage can cause more damage than the initial injury itself. Look out for articles and training videos on how to apply bandages safely.
Tape to help secure any bandages applied.
Sterile saline for flushing eyes or wounds, to remove dirt and debris.
Gauze swabs to apply pressure to stop bleeding or help with wound cleaning.
Tweezers for removing foreign objects such as splinters or thorns.
Tick twister for proper removal of ticks (see below).
Antiseptic wipes or solution for wound cleaning.
Scissors for bandage materials or trimming hair away from a wound.
Gloves to protect yourself and keep any wounds clean.
Other useful items for your kit include:
Instant ice pack - can be applied to bites, stings and injuries to help relieve swelling, pain and inflammation
Emergency blanket - disposable foil blankets can help keep the dog warm and prevent shock.
Don't have one? You can use bubble wrap instead.
Above: Using sufficient lubrication, a digital thermometer can be used to check a dog's temperature, to check for a fever or response to cooling in dogs affected by heatstroke .
Cotton wool - should be placed between the toes when bandaging the feet, to prevent pressure sores
Syringe - for flushing wounds
Notepad and pen - for writing down any instructions given to you by the vet
Blanket - keeps the dog warm or can be used to safely lift and transport the dog
Cotton buds - these can be useful for removing small objects e.g. grass seeds from the eyes
High risk dogs:
Working and some sporting dogs are more likely to suffer from:
Severe, large or deep wounds
Collapse due to hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
It can therefore be a good idea to also carry:
A small pot of honey or jam to rub into their gums in an emergency
Instant heat pad (or hot water bottle and thermos)
Where can I buy a dog first aid kit from?
There are lots of different dog first aid kits on the market for you to buy, or you may want to create your own.
There are two kits available to buy here.
The first kit contains 25 items and is suitable for anyone who owns or walks dogs.
Above: The Complete Dog Walkers' First Aid Kit contains all the items you'll need to treat and assess most injuries and emergency illnesses whilst out on a walk, away from home.
The second is more comprehensive (40 items) and is designed with owners of active and working dogs in mind.
Above: The Complete Active and Working Dog First Aid Kit comes in a MOLLE compatible Viper Tactical Express Utility Pouch. The grab handle and velcro/zip closure make this kit ideal for quick, one handed access in an emergency.