Marli's Chi's - AKC Longcoat Chihuahuas
of San Jose, California
How to put together a First Aid Kit for your dog.
An inexpensive plastic toolbox or overnight/cosmetic case from a discount department store makes a good container for your first aid kit. Here are some items you may want to include:
The Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook: by James M Griffin, MD & Lisa D. Carlson, DVM Covers many dog health related topics including info about vaccinations. Easy to follow directions & an alphabetized emergency section explains how & when to treat a dog & when to call a veterinarian. If you wish, you can purchase a smaller booklet or pamphlet that is easier to store in your kit, but we still highly recommend this book to anyone with a dog. We have found it to be *extremely* useful and reliable. When attempting to treat your dog at home, we highly recommend referring to a book or guide such as this for safest results, but home treatment is not a substitute for treatment by a trained and experienced veterinarian.
Nutrical, Vitacal, or Nutristat: High calorie, vitamin enhanced dietary supplement provides extra energy and stimulates appetite during periods of stress or illness.
Electrolyte solution: Use to prevent dehydration and replace essential minerals and electrolytes lost in diarrhea and vomiting. Pedialyte is the brand most people are familiar with, but it is fine to use a generic Pediatric Electrolyte instead. There are also electrolyte formulations made specifically for dogs.
Hills Science Diet A/D: For the Nutritional Management of Pets Recovering From Serious Illness, Accidents and Surgery. Dogs can undergo significant changes when faced with a serious illness, injury or surgery. They may have trouble maintaining natural defenses and sparing lean body mass (in other words, they may be losing body weight from muscle or organ tissue), which can affect recovery. Prescription Diet® Canine/Feline a/d® has been specifically formulated by veterinarians to be fed to dogs with certain debilitating conditions. These conditions can be affected by the lack of key nutrients and digestible energy. A less nutritious but more inexpensive and easily located option would be to keep a jar or two of strained lamb baby food in your kit, but I recommend the A/D. PLEASE NOTE: I do NOT recommend Science Diet foods in general. I feel there are much higher quality foods that are better for feeding a normally healthy dog to keep them healthy.
Ipecac Syrup: Use to induce vomiting in case of ingestion poisoning such as chocolate. It is a medicine that can be purchased in any pharmacy without a prescription that, when given to a dog, will cause vomiting. Syrup of Ipecac should NOT be given at home if: your dog:
Oral Syringe: Use to administer medications.
Kaopectate or Pepto Bismol: Use to treat diarrhea and intestinal upset. In my experience, Kaopectate is indicated in cases where the diarrhea is more watery and needs to be controlled quickly (such as in cases of sudden food changes), Pepto Bismol is indicated more when gassiness or stomach pain are part of the symptoms, but the diarrhea is less severe (usually a case where the dog has ingested something non-toxic, but is feeling discomfort as a result - grass, twigs, etc.). Severe diarrhea, diarrhea for more than a day, or diarrhea accompanied by vomiting and/or fever should always be treated by a veterinarian. Dosage: 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds every 4 hours.
Children's liquid Benedryl - dye and alcohol free: Use to reduce symptoms of hay fever. Also use to reduce severity of mild anaphylactic shock reaction (usually to vaccination, medication, or insect bites or stings). In cases of a serious reaction, the medication may buy you more time to get your dog to the vet for proper treatment, but a more serious treatment will be required to save your dogs life.
Baby Aspirin: Buffered children's aspirin. Use to treat pain for a short duration or to treat fever until the affected dog can be gotten to a veterinarian. Do not use for a prolonged period.
Hydrogen Peroxide: Use for general wound cleaning and can be used to induce vomiting if Ipecac syrup is not available. To induce vomiting, give 1 teaspoon per 15 pounds of body weight every 10 minutes until vomiting occurs.
Betadine: Topical Antiseptic Microbicide. Helps prevent infection in cuts, scrapes, and minor burns...Forms Protective Film...Virtually Non-Irritating, Nonstaining to Skin. Recommended by Doctors & Nurses.
Neosporin or other Triple Antibiotic Ointment: For topical treatment of minor cuts, scrapes or burns. Serious wounds or bite wounds should always be treated by a veterinarian.
Sterile Eye Wash: Use to flush foreign objects out of the eye.
Terramycin or other Antibiotic Eye Ointment: Antibiotic ointment used to prevent or treat primary & secondary infections of the eye in small & large animals. Any suspected eye injury or infection should be checked by a veterinarian.
Thermometer: Recommend getting a digital thermometer. The temperatures of dogs range more than with humans so it is a good idea to take your dog's temperature several times while he is healthy and keep a note of what his normal body temperature is. A temperature of 103 or above indicates fever.
Cotton Swabs and Cotton Balls: Use to clean wounds or apply medication. Can also be used if sharp object is swallowed such as broken glass. Soak cotton balls in milk and feed to the affected dog. The indigestible cotton fibers will entangle the glass and allow the dog to pass the glass more safely and minimize damage until the dog can be treated by a vet.
Hemostat: Use to remove larger foreign objects or object that are firmly embedded or hard to reach. Can also be used as a clamp.
Tweezers: Use to remove small foreign objects.
Safety Tip Scissors: Use to trim hair away from a wound, cut bandages, etc.
Disposable Vinyl or Latex Gloves: Allows for more hygienic handling of your pet's wounds and clean up afterwards.
Chew Deterrent: Granick's Bitter Apple or other brand of chew deterrent for dogs. Non-toxic, safe and effective taste deterrent. Stop pets from biting and chewing fur, wounds and bandages.
3M Vet Wrap or Co-Flex Bandage: Lightweight bandage stretches & sticks to itself - not to hair or skin. Stays in place to give firm support. Will not absorb moisture. Use to hold dressings.
Gauze Bandage Roll and First Aid Tape
Trauma Pad/Sterile Compress: Individually wrapped Sanitary napkins work well.
Muzzle: Since even the smallest muzzles made are often to big for a Chihuahua, a knee high nylon stocking can be used as a make-shift muzzle on very small dogs. Stretch the stocking lengthwise and, taking one end in each hand, tie around muzzle in a single knot (as in image on right) on top of muzzle. Then bring ends down and tie a second single knot below muzzle, and then bring ends around each side of head and tie off behind head in a square knot. Do not tie too tightly. A muzzle should never be used on a dog that is convulsing or having difficulty breathing, and should only be used to prevent biting.
Disclaimer: Please note that this article is only recommended for the construction of a home first-aid kit for your dog, and that none of the items or treatments described here are suggested as a substitute for proper veterinary care. If your dog is injured or ill, having prepared a first-aid kid at home may help you to stabilize your dog's condition and give you more time to get to a vet for proper treatment, but we do not advise forgoing veterinary care and take no responsibility for the result should any individual choose to treat their dog only at home after having read this article. Recommended dosages are taken from the product labeling for from the Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook and are suggestions only. Brand names in images do not necessarily denote recommendation of that brand. Specific mention of brand names is to help you locate the type of product recommended and does not necessarily denote a brand recommendation unless a recommendation is specifically stated. Any recommendations are based on my personal use of the products - your experience may differ. This article was not subsidized by any of the companies whose products are mentioned.