Your dog needs their very own first aid kit – and we’ll show you how to put together a mini-version for quick day trips.

We all know if we’re traveling long distances or camping with our four-legged friend a first-aid kit is a must. It’s just common sense – not only for us but for our dogs, too.

Old fashioned first aid kit - photo by Alexas Fotos from Pixabay
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

If you’re like me, you might not have considered bringing along a first aid kit when you’re out for a few hours. Maybe you’re just doing a quick walk at a local trail or meeting friends for a romp at the dog park. You’ll just be out for a bit, right? What could possibly happen that can’t be taken care of once you get home?

If First Aid Was Available…

Let me share a quick story that changed my mind.

We had decided to do a simple two mile hike at one of our local parks. Nashville is fortunate to have trails within city limits that let you feel like you’re miles away from civilization – yet are bordered by houses and conveniences not far from the trailhead. I rarely carry more than a fanny pack with dog treats and clean-up bags when simply hiking short distances. It’s not like we’re in the backcountry or anything, so why bother?

We hadn’t gotten far down the trail, a trail that we’ve hiked many times, a trail that seemed safe and familiar, when a man approached us carrying a dog in his arms. Both were covered in blood. The dog had obviously been injured; a trail of blood was visible on the ground behind them.

Horrified, we immediately offered assistance, but the man declined and hurried past us. He said his car was just at the trailhead we had come from.

It was a shocking sight to say the least. Even Chloe was subdued as we continued our walk. We were able to follow the trail of blood about a half mile into the woods where it disappeared into the trees to the right.

What could have happened?

My best guess is that the dog had been running off leash in the woods – maybe he chased after a squirrel or rabbit… And he must have run into a very sharp spiked branch from one of the many fallen trees covering the ground.

Of course, my mind immediately started turning over the events. And trying to figure out what I would do in that situation.

Having first aid supplies would definitely have helped.

Little dog in her owner's arms at the veterinarian's office - photo by J C at Pixabay
Image by J C from Pixabay

Your Mini First Aid Kit

You don’t need to take a huge kit with you on short hikes or trips to run errands. Of course, you SHOULD have a larger first aid kit for your dog to take with you out on the trails for many hours or an overnight trip.

But here’s an easy way to put together a mini-first aid kit. Just a few select supplies in a smaller container that will help you address any emergencies until you can get home or to the veterinarian. What’s even better is that you can probably find all these items at your local dollar store or pharmacy.

You Will Need:

  • Small container for holding supplies. Small is the word here because if it’s not easy to carry, you will not want to bother with it. You can use a plastic Ziploc bag or repurpose a plastic bag from a travel bottle kit. How about a small cosmetics bag?
  • Gauze pads, self-stick bandages, cotton balls – just your basic first aid dressings. Self-stick bandages are essential for your dog as they don’t stick to fur. Since this is a mini kit, you only need to add a few of each item.
  • Rounded scissor/tweezers for cutting fur, dressings and pulling out thorns, etc. If you already have a multi-tool, bring that. I love the scissors with the rounded tips so there is less chance of accidently poking your dog.
  • Saline solution – small travel bottle for washing out debris in eyes and even for washing wounds.
  • Styptic pencil – stops bleeding from torn nails.
  • Benedryl – bug bites, bee stings but most importantly, snake bites! If you hike here in middle Tennessee, snakes are always a possibility. Even though we only have 3 varieties of venomous snakes, it’s important to have this medication on hand. Check with your veterinarian for correct dosage for your dog BEFORE you hit the trail.
  • Muzzle – in a pinch you can use a strip of gauze tape or even your leash. Remember that an injured dog, even the sweetest and most well-mannered, can bite if they are scared or injured. Protect yourself and anyone who might assist you. Cloth muzzles are easy to pack for short term use. And inexpensive.
  • Emergency vet numbers/rabies tag info/medication information – this can easily be printed and taped inside your bag or container. Time counts in an emergency. Know who to call. If your dog is on any medication, emergency staff will need to be aware of that.

Your Larger First Aid Kit

For overnight trips and vacations, drives more than an hour or two from home or hikes in backcountry, you’ll definitely want to assemble a more comprehensive first aid kit for your dog. There are some very nice kits available to purchase, like this one from Wanderdog First Aid. As an added bonus, Wanderdog is offering our readers a 10% discount on orders. Use GODOG10 .

Golden retriever puppy being carried in a backpack while out hiking - photo by Spencer Gurley Pexels
Photo by Spencer Gurley from Pexels

But you may find it easier (and fun!)  to make your own.

Affiliate links ahead… As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

In addition to the above supplies (and a larger waterproof bag/container) here are the things I never leave home without:

You Will Need

  • Colloidal silver/antibiotic wound care  -we use colloidal silver for so many things (humans included) and not just for wounds.  Several drops in your dog’s water can help with any bacteria picked up from water sources or other nasty stuff your dog might eat or drink.  You can also use it to clean cuts and abrasions. Otherwise, Vetericyn makes great wound and skin care products.
  • Activated charcoal – absorbs toxins from all sorts of things your dog might get into. If you suspect your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t, check with a vet to see what is recommended dosage.
  • Hydrogen peroxide, 3% – again, for things your dog should not ingest, this will induce vomiting. ALWAYS check with a veterinarian before using. In a pinch, you can use on wounds.
  • Rescue Remedy So helpful to have a simple way to support your dog in remaining calm during stressful situations. No side effects and alcohol-free.
  • Mylar emergency blanket – keeping your dog’s core body temperature stable is super important if injured. You probably have one for yourself in your backpack. Bring one for your dog.

Of course, you can add to this list. Throw in latex gloves, more gauze rolls/pads, alcohol/iodine prep pads, digital thermometer, coconut water (electrolytes.)

But all these supplies won’t do any good if you don’t have the knowledge to use them properly.

Let me repeat that. All the fancy supplies and equipment won’t help your dog in an emergency unless you know how to use them properly.

A canine first aid book is also essential. Field Guide to Dog First Aid is a highly recommended resource.

Out in the field, however, you’ll need to carry a smaller quick reference guide. Take a look at this gem of a guide by Dr. Libbie Fort, DVM.  This little booklet is the perfect size for stashing in your pack. It’s spiral bound so it lies flat and is water resistant. Dr. Fort is also the founder of Wanderdog First Aid and I highly recommend her blog.

Finally – DO remember to check your supply levels before you leave home. Also check expiration dates on medications/treatments at least every six months.

MOST IMPORTANT….

Don’t skip this step! Before you leave your house with your dog in tow, look up the number of the nearest emergency vet service where you’re going. Write the number down on paper and stick it in your emergency kit. Don’t rely on cell phone service or battery life!

We’ve done the work for you and have a sweet little Emergency Medical First Aid Card for you to download. Just print it out, fill in the information and tuck it in your first aid kit.

Like the old Boy Scouts motto, being prepared can be a lifesaver out on the trails…or out of town.

Want to keep this list on hand? Pin this to your favorite Pinterest board.

Go Dog Nashville printable emergency card Pin for Pinterest

13 Comments

  1. Hindy Pearson

    It’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit anywhere your pets are. Nothing worse than running around looking for things in an emergency. I also keep the number to the emergency hospital handy just in case.

  2. It is so important to have a first aid kit with you at all times when out in nature, both for your pets and you. I have one which I carry with me with the basics as like you I only go to places in and around the city. Great list and am going to check my kit again. Thanks

  3. Nice Post, this is a Brilliant Idea. A First Aid kit for the pups! I always carry stuff for the kids, but not the dogs. Good thinking. Very good advice on taking down the nearest ER Vet at your destination location. Good to have ready to go when needed.

  4. Great post. I’ve had two serious dog accidents while I was out hiking or skiing, although a first aid kit would not have helped in either case, but it’s a good reminder to bring one along. Also knowing where the nearest vet is located.

    One fatal accident involved a snowmobile and the other was when my dog fell off a cliff and fell 75 feet down. Luckily we found her quickly and flagged down a man who directed us to the vet. She survived with her back leg broken into 5 pieces. She then lived another ten years.

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