When it comes to your pet-pal –“Always expect the unexpected!”
So how prepared are you for a cut pad…or worse…if an accident should happen on a walk?
When you do something every day, such as walk the dog, it’s easy to become complacent. But if your fur-friend slices their pad on glass and is bleeding heavily, they need first aid immediately…which means a having a first aid kit to hand.
The Right First Aid Kit for your Pet
But not all first aid kits are created equal. For example, a basic kit often contains just one or two narrow bandages. But for some pets, this is almost as bad as having no first aid kit at all, because it lulls you into a false sense of security.
For example, those two tiny bandages are as much use for a Great Dane as putting a Band-Aid on a gun-shot wound. Any medium-sized dog or larger is going to need wide bandages and plenty of them.
When selecting a first aid kit always keep the following in mind:
- The quantities in the kit: Are there enough bandages for a large dog, say if they ripped their body on barbed wire and you needed to bind their chest?
- The width of the bandages: Are they appropriate for your pet’s size? The larger the dog, the wider the bandage you may need.
- A real life situation: Does the kit have everything required for a ‘field dressing’, such as saline, scissors, sterile gauze, bandages, and Elastoplast to secure the dressing in place?
- Day to day hazards: For example, walking in tick country makes a tick hook essential. What hazards does your pet regularly face and so what should you be prepared for?
Your Guide to ‘Must-Have’ First Aid Items
Let’s take a closer look at what should be inside a pet first aid kit. The essentials include:
Surgical gloves: To protect the wound from contamination from bugs on your hands
Sterile saline: To flush the wound. Cleaning a fresh injury can make the difference between a wound becoming infected or not. To do a proper job requires large volumes of saline, so be aware just one small sachet isn’t enough.
Scissors: To open the saline packet and cut bandages
Sterile gauze squares: To cover the wound
Primapore: This surgical paper tape is great at holding the gauze square in place over the wound, while you bandage the injury. This is really useful when you are working alone and the pet is wriggly.
Gauze bandages: Ideally of different widths, and plenty of them, to form the dressing. Remember, it isn’t just legs that get cut, and wrapping a belly or chest takes a lot of bandages.
Self-adhesive bandage: This makes a final layer over the top of the dressing to protect it, keep it clean, and help secure everything in place
Tweezers: For remove thorns or stingers out of paws
Tick hook: Removing a tick straight away reduces the risk of acquiring tick-borne diseases
Cool pack: Applying cold to an area of inflammation, sprain, or strain can give much-needed pain relief.
An emergency blanket: An injured animal needs to be kept warm to reduce the risk of shock.
Take a look at the bigger picture and what happens when an animal is injured and in pain. For example, even the friendliest of dogs may bite when distressed with a broken leg. And for an owner walking multiple dogs, how would you stop the other dogs from running off whilst you tend to the injured one?
What follows are some sensible added extras you may wish to consider:
A muzzle: The friendliest of dogs may snap and bite when in pain, and many owners get injured this way. If the animal is seriously injured, having a soft muzzle ready and waiting in the first aid kit may help you to tend their injuries without getting bitten.
A fixing point: For those walking multiple dogs it may be worth packing a metal spike that can be screwed into the ground on which to anchor the other dogs’ leashes. One injured dog is bad enough, and you certainly don’t want the others running off across a road.
First aid leaflet: Panic can do strange things to the ability to think straight. Having a handy reference guide can help keep you on track in an emergency situation.
The vet’s phone number: Always phone the vet before setting off. This allows them to get emergency equipment, such as IV fluids, ready for your arrival.
What NOT to have?
It may seem odd but it’s not appropriate to have pain relief in a first aid kit. Pain medication could interfere with whatever drugs the vet needs to give, and deprive the pet of much stronger, more effective medications once they get to the vet clinic.
What about antiseptic wipes?
Believe it or not, in my opinion, antiseptic wipes are fairly low down on the list of essentials. Antiseptics have the potential to damage tissue and slow healing. In a first aid situation, flushing the wound with saline is far more effective than disinfection at promoting a clean wound, avoiding infection, and encouraging healthy healing.
Your Pet First Aid Kit
Act now! If you don’t already have a pet first aid kit, order one today. If you have one in the cupboard, get it out and check all the sterile components are in date and the supplies are adequate for your needs. If it doesn’t, then keep it as a spare and choose one that better meets your pet’s needs.
Indeed, being truly prepared means keeping a pet first aid kit not just at home but in the car. So you consider having two: One for home and one for away! That really is being ready to “Expect the unexpected!”