What to Put In Your Canine FIRST AID KIT

Assembling a canine first aid kit for home or travel use is fairly simple. In fact, its pretty easy to assemble a kit that will serve both human and canine members of your family!

Before reading further, know that I am NOT a veterinarian. The contents of my first aid kit were assembled using common sense and my experiences with my own dogs. Dosage information listed here comes from the Merck Manual or from my own veterinarian.

***PLEASE consult your own vet about appropriate uses and doses before giving your dog any of these medications. Also be sure to become familiar with the side effects and Adverse Reactions before using any of these medications -- while they are considered fairly safe and are not prescription medications, there may be some dogs that will react badly to some of these drugs.***

The first thing you need for a good first aid kit is a suitable container. We use a fishing tackle-type box. On the outside, with permanent marker, label the box "First Aid" on all sides -- in an emergency someone else might have to locate and use this kit. Tape to the inside of the box lid, a card with the following information:

Also tape to the inside of the box lid, a card with a list of common medications, their general dosages, and the specific dose for the weights of your own dogs: For example:

(NOTE: my dogs both weigh about 65 lb. YOURS may differ. List the actual doses needed for your OWN dog's weights. This way they are quickly and easily available and you don't have to be searching for a calculator or trying to recall from memory when your dog needs medication.)

NEVER EVER give Tylenol (toxic to liver) or ibuprofen (Nuprin, Motrin, Advil, etc.). Ibuprofen is very toxic and fatal to dogs at low doses. Only aspirin is safe for dogs, and buffered aspirin or ascriptin is preferred to minimize stomach upset.

Check with your vet to confirm dosages before using. If symptoms persist, consult your vet ASAP -- do NOT continue to try to treat at home, the problem might be more serious than you think!

Give liquid medications using an oral syringe tucked into the side of the dog's mouth, holding jaws closed (rather than poking straight down the throat and risking getting liquid into the lungs).

Its also a good idea to keep copies of your dog's vaccination records, including a copy of the Rabies Certificate, in the First Aid kit, or in a packet in your car. I keep packets with shot records, what heartworm preventative the dogs get and which day of the month it should be given, emergency contact information, and my vet's name and phone number, in EACH car, and in my dog show equipment bag. In addition the emergency contact and vet information are clearly posted on my refridgerator door at home where anyone who needs it can find the information. You never know when you may be incapacitated in an accident and your dogs may be in the hands of a complete stranger who will need this information.


Also have the following around the house, and consider packing to take on out-of-town trips:

Those supplies preceded by a * must be obtained from a veterinarian. All other supplies can be purchased, over the counter, at most any drug store. Several dog supply catalogs, such as Dr.s Foster & Smith, UPCO, and Omaha Vaccine, offer a variety of medical and first aid supplies.

If your dog has severe allergies to bee stings or other things that might be commonly encountered in places you take your dog, consider asking your vet about stocking your first aid kit with medication that might be needed for that sort of special emergency. Likewise, trackers and field trainers may want to consult their vet about equipping their first aid kits with specific supplies to deal with snake bites.

Be sure to clearly LABEL all medications and supplies with their name and expiration date. Be sure to replace medications that may have exceeded their recommended expiration date. Go through your kit at least once a year, replacing expired medications, replenishing used supplies, etc. We do this right before going on vacation with the dogs, so we know the kit is up-dated and complete when we are travelling and away from close veterinary care.

For good canine first aid descriptions and instuctions:

Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook
by D.G. Carlson and J.M. Giffin
Howell Book House, 1980 or more recent new edition?,
ISBN 0-87605-764-4

For more detail:

The Merck Veterinary Manual
C.M. Fraser et al. (editors)
published by Merck & Co.,
7th Edition 1991.
ISBN 911910-55-7

*** If in doubt, see your vet! ***
*** Your dog's health is too precious to play gotta-save-money guessing games with! Remember first aid is just that -- the "first" aid given as you get the patient to a doctor for proper medical attention. ***

Contributed by Anne McGuire Email:
Copyright (1995)© by Anne V. McGuire. May be reprinted, whole and unedited, for distribution free of charge and for educational purposes only.

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