How To Build A Dog First Aid Kit At Home
Do I Need A Dog First Aid Kit?
Yes, although we always hope no accidents will happen, it is always better to be safe than sorry. A dog can suffer an injury, a sting, or ingest a poison at any time. It is essential to know how to deal with the situation quickly.
We recommend having some supplies available at home, with you, and in the car. They can be incredibly useful in helping your dog feel more comfortable before reaching a medical professional as well as having a positive impact on their long term recovery.
Most people have the main supplies already in their own first aid kit or medicine cabinet, but it is always a good to keep an extra supply specifically for your dog.
A personal first aid kit does not replace the need for veterinary care. If you are not sure what you are doing, contact the vet, and they can advise you over the phone or recommend you bring the dog in for further care.
Make sure to keep the kit restocked and that all medication is in date.
If you're interested in buying a pre-made first aid kit with all of the essentials, check out our kit here.
Things To Remember If Your Dog Is Injured:
Always contact the veterinarian - They will be able to calmly explain what you need to do and whether you need to take a visit.
Think first - Try to think about how to best solve the situation without injuring the dog further, or putting yourself at risk.
Stay calm - Your dog will already be stressed, try not to increase their worry by you panicking.
Stay safe - Dogs can act differently when they’re injured. Keep those around you safe but assessing the situation before acting. Use a muzzle if required.
Do not administer medication without prior guidance - Do not give your dog any of your medicine as it can have toxic ingredients and make the situation worse. Contact the veterinarian, and they will be able to advise if the medication is safe and in what dosages.
What Should Be In A Dog First Aid Kit?
First Aid Manual
This is essential. If you are administering any kind of first aid on your dog, make sure you’re doing it as correctly and safely as possible. Administering any medication should be done under the guidance of a veterinarian.
It is a good idea to read the manual and prepare your kit ahead of time. Learn about the potential toxins and how to do basic first aid on your dog.
If you do want to book into a first aid class, there are many options. Check with your local council or government for a regulated class.
Now, let us talk about how you’re going to transport it.
Carry Case and Travel Pouch
We have one large carry case which moves between the house and car. It contains everything we might need in an emergency. This is also the kit we take if we go hiking or camping overnight with the dogs.
We also have a smaller travel pouch that we take on short walks that aren’t too far from civilization.
The cases should be practical, water-resistant, and don’t need to be fancy. Often a zip-seal bag works well as if you do use the kit, it will get messy, and the bag can be thrown away and easily replaced.
You may prefer the smaller size to be moldable so that it can fit into a small rucksack.
For the larger 🏠, we recommend using any of the following:
Large plastic food container
Toolbox or Tacklebox
Pre-made first aid bag
Plastic cosmetic case
For the travel size ⛺, we recommend using any of the following:
Small plastic food container
Zip seal bag
Small plastic cosmetic case
On each of the items below, we have indicated which kit to add them to:
🏠 - Full-Size Kit
⛺ - Travel Kit
Contact Details, Allergens, and Regular Medication - 🏠 ⛺
You should always have the essential details written in your kit. Download our printable card here.
The ones we recommend are as follows:
Regular Veterinarian Details (telephone, name, and address) - Always essential if you need to ask for quick advice or book an appointment.
Emergency Veterinarian Details (telephone, name, and address) - If your regular practice is not 24hrs, have the local emergency number available to call.
Pet Poison Hotline - It is always good to have this number to hand in case your dog has ingested anything potentially toxic.
Emergency Contact Details - If you become injured and need medical assistance, it is a good idea to have the details of someone who can look after your dog in an emergency.
Insurance Details - Knowing exactly what your dog is covered for in a medical situation is vital. Most insurance companies are also able to offer advice.
Allergies - Does your dog have any allergies? Make sure these are written down; things like this are easily forgotten in stressful situations or emergencies.
Regular Medication - Does your dog have any illnesses or require medication? Keep a note of these so that anyone treating your dog can do so with the most information possible. Make sure your kit also includes a few days’ supplies of their regular medication.
Health Conditions - Knowing any conditions your dog suffers from is vital during medical treatment. During emergencies, this kind of information can easily slip your mind, so having it written down is helpful.
Current Weight - We always have a note of the current weight of our dogs. This makes it easier when speaking to a veterinarian on the phone about administering the correct amount of medication.
Microchip Number - If your dog gets lost, then knowing their microchip number is essential.
Muzzle - 🏠 ⛺
Even a very calm and well-trained dog can bite. When a dog feel threatened or in pain, it can cause them to react differently.
To keep you and others safe, we recommend muzzling your dog before attempting to treat a wound.
There are several muzzle options:
A caged muzzle - This is the best for your dog as it allows them to pant, drink, and eat, while still protecting you from a bite. However, they are bulky and heavy. If you are camping, on a walk, or anywhere far from home, this can be too cumbersome to carry around. But, this is an excellent option to keep in your at-home first aid kit.
Soft muzzle - If you’re looking for a muzzle to add to your first aid kit that you can travel around with, this is the most compact option. It is lightweight and can easily be added to your kit. It is not the most comfortable for your dog and should only be used for very short periods as it prevents your dog from panting (which allows them to cool down).
Homemade muzzle - If you need a muzzle and don’t already have one, you can use various things. The most common is non-advisive, conforming bandage, a leash, or a spare collar. It can be wrapped around the muzzle and secured behind the ears. This is the worst option for your dog but can be used if you are in desperate need.
Inflatable E-Collar - 🏠
Ever tried to keep your dog from licking a wound or stop them tearing off a bandage without one? Inflatable e-collars are great to have in your first aid kit.
Scissors - 🏠 ⛺
We always have blunt-ended medical scissors in our kit. They are great for the obvious, cutting bandages, but can also be used for cutting something out of your dog’s fur and trimming away the hair from around a wound.
Tweezers - 🏠 ⛺
These are essential for removing thorns, glass, splinters, and dirt from wounds. They can also be used to remove bug stings (be careful not to break it).
Disposable Gloves - 🏠 ⛺
Whether you’re treating yourself or your dog, gloves will help prevent cross-contamination or infection. We opt for latex-free ones as allergies are common.
Foil Blanket - 🏠
If your dog has hypothermia or is cold, a foil blanket will help to keep them warm. They trap in body heat, which would typically disperse into the environment.
Syringe - 🏠
A syringe has many uses in a first aid kit. It can be used to administer medication or to give your dog water orally. It can also be used to flush out the dirt from the wound before you cover it. It can also be used to remove sand or dust from your dogs’ eyes or ears.
Tick Remover - 🏠
A tick remover is a small plastic tool that makes it easy to safely remove the whole tick, without breaking and leaving half stuck in your dog. Ticks can carry various diseases, so it is best to remove them as soon as possible.
Instant Cool Pack - 🏠
A cool pack can help take down swelling and inflammation. Do not apply to ice pack directly to the skin, use a towel, blanket, or piece of clothing as a barrier as they can burn the skin.
Cotton Wool - 🏠
These can be useful for a variety of reasons. They can be used to clean ears, eyes, and wounds. Solutions and medication can be applied with cotton wool. Cotton wool can also be used as padding around a wound.
Antiseptic Wash or Wipes - 🏠 ⛺
The solution can be diluted with water and used to clean wounds. If using the solution, use a gauze pad or cotton wool to apply.
Gauze Pad - 🏠 ⛺ (include 5 in the travel and 10 in the full size)
These can be used to stop the bleeding and clean the wound. They can also be used to cover the injury as the first layer before bandaging over the top.
There are two varieties:
Classic - These are common in most first aid kits, they will absorb the blood and can be used as a base for the bandage, however, as they are not non-stick, they can get stuck to the wound and cause it to reopen when you remove the pad. These should be easy to remove with salt-water when the time comes.
Nonstick - These have a coating which means they do not stick to the wound, but still can absorb the blood.
Conforming, Open-Weave Bandage - 🏠 ⛺ (include 1-2 rolls in the travel and 2-5 rolls in the full size)
After cleaning and covering with a gauze pad, the open weave bandage can be wrapped around to secure the gauze in place. You can fasten the bandage with tape or cover with vet wrap.
Micropore Tape - 🏠 ⛺ (include 1 in the travel and 2 in the full size)
Tape is primarily used to hold the bandage in place. Look for a variety that does not stick to skin or hair/fur. It will stick to the dressing and itself, making it far less painful for your dog when it being removed.
Cohesive, Self-Adhesive Bandage (Vet Wrap) - 🏠 ⛺ (include 1 roll in the travel and 2 rolls in the full size)
This should be used as the outer layer of a bandage. It will hold everything in place and protect the wound. Vet wrap sticks to itself, so it does not need to be secured with tape. Make sure to stretch the wrap from the roll and apply it loosely over the open-weave bandage. This will make sure you do not apply it too tightly. If used too tightly, it can restrict circulation.
3% Hydrogen Peroxide - 🏠 ⛺
This can be used to induce vomiting (under veterinarian instruction). If you suspect your dog has ingested something toxic, contact the poison hotline or emergency veterinarian, and they will be able to advise how to administer this to your dog. We don’t recommend using this to clean wounds as it can remove helpful and healing bacteria and delay recovery.
Antihistamines - 🏠 ⛺
These can be used to relieve allergy symptoms, help with allergic reactions, and reduce the reaction of a bug sting. Your veterinarian will be able to advise on dosage amounts depending on your dog’s size and note this down on the packet.
Activated Charcoal - 🏠
In some situations, this can be useful to help dissolve or absorb toxins. However, it is not always beneficial for all toxins. Ensure you check with the poison hotline or veterinarian before administering it.
Styptic Powder - 🏠
Styptic powder clots the blood to stop bleeding. It is convenient if you have a nail too short to clot the blood quickly. It can also be used on minor cuts to prevent excess blood loss.
Other Things Usually In Your Bag Or Home To Think About:
Water - Water is essential on walks. It is vital for hydration, but it can also be useful for cleaning wound areas, washing out grit and dust from the eyes, and diluting other medications.
Bowls - If your dog needs to drink or eat during your trip, a couple of portable bowls are great to take on walks. You can also use them to soak the paw or mix medication (make sure it’s been thoroughly cleaned before using it for drinking again). If we’re on a long hike, we usually have one for food and water, and one for emergencies.
Torch - Normally something already in overnight and camping kits, a flashlight is useful if an injury occurs overnight.
Towel or Blanket - As well as being used for their primary purpose, both have a variety of other uses. They can be used to clean large wounds or as a sling to carry your dog but placing the towel or blanket under the abdomen and carried on either side.
Thermometer and Lubricant - We don’t include this in our essential list, as the main reason you would need one is if you suspect your dog had heatstroke (hyperthermia) or exhaustion.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, you should already be on your way to the veterinarian.
Battery or Solar Powdered Razor - This can be useful to cut the hair away from wounded areas or removing sticky things from the fur (commonly plants, and sap).
Splint and Shearers - A split is needed if your dog has broken its leg. It will help to hold it in place until it can see the veterinarian. If you do not have a split, you can use any other straight object, like a sturdy stick, and bandage it to your dog’s leg.
Print the full essentials list here
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Disclaimer: Each dog is different, and every circumstance is different. All efforts have been made to provide accurate information. However, it is not provided by a qualified Veterinarian, Veterinarian Surgeon, or Behaviorist. The information provided is purely educational. The information should not be used as an alternative or substitute for medical care. If you have any health or medical concerns, contact a qualified Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinarian immediately.