Everyday Living September 22nd, 2017

What To Add To Your Dog's First Aid Kit

You and your dog are close.

So close, in fact, that people often mistake you for twins.

Well OK, maybe not that close, but close enough that he doesn’t fuss when you trim his toenails. Especially when they’re longer than yours.

So, you pull out the pet-friendly nail trimmers and sit on the floor smiling as Figaro, your newly adopted Chocolate Lab, who comes meandering over and lays down next to you. You gently take his paw, move the nail clippers to the first nail and squeeze.

Just then, Maxie, your high-strung Siamese bursts through the door, runs across your legs, over the dog and back out into the living room.

You jump, the dog howls and looking down you realize you’ve cut his nail way too short and hit a nerve. Literally.

What in the heck are you going to do?

Blood is dripping off your dog’s toe; he’s looking at you like you mortally wounded him and you’re freaking out at the sight of blood. Quick! Grab your pet first aid kit!

What!? You don’t have a pet first aid kit?

OK, run and grab your husband’s shaving kit, take out the styptic powder and sprinkle some on your dog’s nail. (Styptic is a clotting powder that will stop the bleeding.) Give poor Figaro a couple of treats, lots of hugs and put the nail clippers away for another day.

In the meantime, you need to put together a first aid kit for your pets. You have one for you and your family, don’t you? Pets are family too, but they have a few different needs for their kit than you would have for yours.

Fido First Aid Kit Essentials:

Styptic powder
Helps in the blood clotting process, as noted in the example above.

Veterinarian’s phone number/Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435)
Write the numbers on an index card and either put it in a plastic bag or laminate the card.

For those times you have to pull out cactus spines, hitch-hikers or ticks.

Sterile gauze pads
To cover wounds, these are the same type that you use on yourself.

Adhesive tape
Use these to hold the sterile gauze pads in place. Do NOT use human-grade bandages such as Band-Aids. You think it’s hard to pull a Band-Aid off your skin, try doing it on a hairy dog!

This is a homeopathic remedy. It’s handy for kidney and bladder infections, sunburns, and insect bites. You can purchase on Amazon.com, at Whole Foods or any health store.

Another homeopathic remedy, this one is great for fevers and some forms of paralysis. My dog had hind leg paralysis twice. For whatever reason, her back legs wouldn’t work. Since they felt hot, I gave her some Belladonna (3-4 pills every 30 minutes for two hours). She was back up and running around like nothing ever happened. I ALWAYS have this on hand, but check with your vet before administering.

Rescue remedy
This is also a homeopath, but it’s gaining a lot of ground in the world. Created from flowers, it’s a liquid that will help calm an animal down. Try to purchase the pet version because it has no alcohol. This is perfect for pets that are afraid of thunder, loud noises or screaming children.

Dog/cat treats
If your animal has been severely injured, no number of treats are going to help. But if you nicked them while trimming their nails, they may just forgive you a little sooner.

Nail clippers
They make nail clippers specifically for animals. They have a shield on the back, so you don’t accidentally cut to quick. Use the shield, so you don’t have to use the Styptic Powder.

Penlight or flashlight
Always a good idea to have a flashlight handy. Particularly in the dark when you need to check your pet’s ears, mouth or for injuries.

Glucose paste or corn syrup
I had a cat that had diabetes (supposedly, but that’s a story for another time!) Her blood sugar was low, so my husband gave her the required amount of insulin, but apparently, it was too much. She crashed big time. I ran and got the corn syrup out of the cupboard, poured some onto my finger and stuffed it in her mouth. Crisis averted. If looking for glucose paste, check to make sure it’s pet-friendly and read the dosing instructions.

Milk of magnesia/activated charcoal
This is something useful to have on hand for poisoning. I highly recommend contacting your vet if you believe your pet has been poisoned, but this may help slow down the effects. It’s also helpful as a laxative if your pet is suffering from constipation. Of course, I keep a can of pumpkin on hand for the same thing. Pumpkin is a great fibrous fruit that can help with diarrhea and constipation.

Non-latex disposable gloves
Very helpful to have on-hand if you don’t want to get blood or other bodily fluids on your hands.

Blunt-end scissors
Useful to cut pieces of the adhesive tape.

Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
Wipes are probably the best, although I lean more towards keeping a bottle of natural Aloe Vera gel in the fridge. It has great healing properties, doesn’t hurt if ingested (because we all know our dogs and cats will lick whatever you put on them) and is easily obtainable. You can buy an aloe vera plant if you prefer. When you need some gel, just snip off the end and squeeze. I don’t recommend the spray. Most dogs and cats I know don’t like the sound the spray makes; they think it’s a bottle of water being squirted at them.

It’s never a bad idea to keep an extra leash in your pet’s first aid kit. That way if you have to take your dog to the vet, you won’t be scrambling to find the one you use every day.

Snake bite kit
If you live in New York City, you’ll probably never have to worry about a snake crossing your path (unless it’s a two-legged one!) For those of us that live in the desert; there is a constant concern for rattlesnakes (or copperheads for those on the East Coast!). It doesn’t hurt to have a snake bite kit on hand. You can find them on Amazon or even your local vet’s office.

Remember, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy first aid kit for your pet, but you should have something readily available to use in case of an emergency.

Your pets will thank you.