Why I Carry a First Aid Kit for my Dog [& What I Carry]

Updated: Dec 24, 2019

A number of people store some sort of first aid supplies in their home. A smaller number carry a first aid kit in the trunk of their car. But I carry a first aid kit everywhere – and not necessarily for me… for my dogs. While this may be a step too far for most, I’d like to share why I do this and what I carry.

Many of us will go to great lengths to ensure our pets live a long and healthy life. In fact, we often put their needs before our own. A survey shows that 75% of pet owners would pass up their dream home if it wasn’t suitable for their pets. This makes sense – most of us consider them to be a member of the family. As members of our family, we want to care for and protect our dogs. We hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

How it Started

A few years ago I began a hobby collecting camping and survival gear. As my head wondered from one doomsday scenario to the next, I eventually toned it down a notch and fine-tuned the gear in our Bug Out Bags for only the most realistic of situations. Should there be an emergency that forces us out of our home, all we need to do is grab our bags, leash up the dogs, and hit the road. Conversely, if it is unsafe to go outside, we can shack up at home for a while as we have a supply of shelf stable food on hand.

It wasn’t until an incident occurred with one of our Siberian Huskies, Myka, that I realized we’d been completely unprepared for pet related injuries. There was no earthquake, no tornado, or any catastrophic event. Instead, a small piece of sharp fencing caused a fairly severe laceration to her leg; such a simple event that brought us (& Myka) a lot of misery.

Myka’s Incident

From the other room I heard a loud gasp, followed by a ear-buzzing scream. My wife had walked into the kitchen to find a trail of blood that lead from the back door to Myka, who sat there panting in a small red pool. I ran up to evaluate the situation, but realized we didn’t have any gauze, wraps, or bandages to stop her leg from bleeding. Nor did we have any cleaning solutions to see the extent of the cut. We were very much unprepared. We grabbed some paper towels to cover the opening, then used a kitchen towel to wrap her leg; and off to the emergency vet we went.

Myka required stiches, which she later chewed open. She was then closed up again using staples, which she later chewed open again. It was a long, stressful, and financially burdensome situation. Now, whether we carried first aid supplies in our home or not, this still required a visit to the vet. So, if we had to take her to the vet anyway, how would carrying a first aid kit have helped?

We’re not always going to find ourselves near a vet. We take many trips away from town and into the state forests; and often stay overnight. The actions we take in the moments after an accident occurs can be critical for your pet. Should a situation like this occur while we are away from home, we want to be able to act quickly in treating their wounds until we have the opportunity to make it to a vet.

Preparing a First Aid Kit

Shortly after Myka’s incident, we put together a couple first aid kits. We really didn’t want to carry too much as it would become heavy and bulky; we would likely end up leaving it at home. Instead, we decided to carry only a few items that we may actually need; something small, compact and light weight that we could carry in my backpack or in my wife’s daypack.

Carrying a customized first-aid kit gives us a sense of comfort knowing that we may be able to stop the bleeding, provide wound dressing, and carry our dog away safely.

Here are some important first aid supplies that we carry:

Styptic Powder

Styptic Powder is a first aid substance that quickly stops bleeding. It’s often sold in small quantities as you don’t need much. Styptic Powder works by clotting blood, which quickly stops the bleeding. We carry a small tube of Safari Styptic Powder in the event we encounter another situation like the above.

Bandage Wraps

Standard bandage wraps are an excellent item to keep in your first aid kit. Injuries such as lacerations and burns need protection from dirt and debris; whereas sprains, pulled muscles and torn ligaments may require a snug wrap to provide support. You really don’t need anything fancy; although a flexible and self-adhering Bandage Wraps are best.

Antiseptic Solution

Cuts & scrapes may go unnoticed during outings with our dogs. By that time, dirt and debris has been caked onto their wounds. A small bottle of antiseptic rinse will help to clean out the affected area. For eyes, ears and nose, a small squeezable bottle of Saline Solution will help.

Emergency Sling

Should your dog experience a sprain or broken bone, an emergency sling can be a life saver. These are light weight and compact in design, making it very easy to carry. The sling wraps around their body, allowing their legs to hang freely. The sling is carried over your shoulders, allowing you to carry your dog to a safe area.

We hope to hear that you, like many others, decide to carry a first aid kit or supplies with you during your outings with your pets. They can prove to be life-saving at times and will bring you a tremendous amount of comfort.

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