Exploring the great outdoors with your dog can be wonderful and exciting, but it can also sometimes be dangerous. Be prepared by keeping a first aid kit for your dog in your car. Backpacking or camping? Bring a mini-kit with you on the adventure. Here's a sampling of what I keep in my first aid kit for the adventure dogs. What else do you use? Have you had to use it? Add your thoughts to the comments below.
Everything in red is what you should have on your person on the trail. The rest can be stored in a first aid kit in your vehicle.
First Aid Kit for Your Dog - Contents
Betadine - similar to iodine, good to disinfect open wounds
Collar - there are so many uses, not only as a collar. a leash and a spare collar can be used to make a sling, binding, carrying
Leash - making a rig to carry your dog, securing your dog
Bandanna - to cover your dog's eyes if they are in a panic, to cover a wound, use as a makeshift muzzle for a distressed dog, wrapping, binding
Gauze - covering open wounds before wrapping
Vet Wrap - must have for any first aid kit. wrapping, securing
Medical tape - 1" - keeping gauze or dressing in place, very handy for paws
Benadryl tablets - for allergic reactions
Athletic Wrap - binding injuries, wrapping sprains, can also be used as a sling
Medical Scissors - cutting tape or fur around wound sites
Pocket Knife - must have in your pack or on your person for every hike. for those really desperate moments where you may need to cut a leash or collar, a caught strap, or as a multiple function tool on the trail
Poop Bags - not just for poop. storing soiled gauze, wrap over an injured paw and secure with medical tape, keeping dirt out of a wound, makeshift glove
Towel - carrying your dog, making a sling, helping an injured dog into the vehicle, making a dog comfortable, covering open wounds or stopping bleeding
Vaseline - excellent for cracked paws
Tweezers - removing insect stingers, removing debris from a wound, removing splinters from paws
Pepto tablets - diarrhea or vomiting
Eye Wash - for flushing wounds or eye debris
Common Maladies of the Trail
*Note: I am NOT a veterinarian or a vet tech. I have zero training on how to treat first aid injuries. Please always consult with a vet if your dog experiences one of these maladies.
Ripped or torn dew claw - I hate to say it, but this has happened to me, and it's actually pretty common. Dew claws are the vestigial nail on your dog's "ankle." They can get caught on brush or other obstacles on the trail. It's really important to keep these nails trimmed short just like your dog's other toenails to reduce risk of snags. If your dog tears one, you'll have everything in your first aid kit to address it until you can reach your vet. Apply betadine, cover with gauze, then wrap with vet wrap securely.
Cracked Paw Pad - Also happens quiet frequently in the winter when the air is dry. Use musher's secret or Vaseline as a balm and cover the paw if necessary.
Torn Paw Pad or Carpal Pad - This one happened to Mica while on vacation in Maine. He was swimming every day, and the water softened his carpal pad. One day, it tore clean off. Ouch!! Keep it clean and covered while your dog is on the go, let it air out as much as you can during down time.
Allergic Reaction - All too common out on the trail. Give Benadryl tablets as per your vet's recommendation.
Strain or Sprain - be aware of your dog's fitness level when you hit the trail. Strains and sprains can happen when your dog tackles something they aren't fit enough to handle
Bug Bites - this doesn't happen too often due to the protection of a dog's coat, but bug bites can definitely irritate your dog
Heat Exhaustion - watch for signs, give breaks to cool off and give water. this can be serious!
Cuts - keep the area clean and consult with your vet regarding stitches
I hope these tips and tricks help keep you and your pup safe on the trail. Special thanks to Emily Lewis and her vet tech expertise for helping me with this article.