By Dale E Smith
This is another installment of our camping with pets series. We are going to cover first aid. We aren’t teaching you first aid but hoping you’ll find tips on what to have in a first aid kit for you and your pet.
Dogs can find trouble without trying. If you are active with your four legged buddy you know he can always surprise you. It doesn’t matter whether you are staying in a hotel or backpacking the AT, (Appalachian Trail), dogs seem to have a knack for finding trouble when it looks like there is none. Because of that I thought I would give you a guide or a checklist of what you may want to have in a first aid kit for both you and your pooch. Listed below is what we have in our first aid kit. Much of it can vary depending on what activity we’re doing. If we are traveling by car, I will take everything, but when I start to put the backpack on to hike for three days, I downsize. While I take many of the same items, I may just change the quantities to reflect what I’m most likely to need.
If you have some items you carry that we’re missing please let us know by putting them in the comment section on this page. We would love your input!
Here is our list
- Digital thermometer
- 2″ and 3” Conforming gauze roll
- Hydrogen peroxide – several uses, very handy to make your dog vomit.
- First Aid tape
- Antibiotic ointment
- 10ml Syringe
- 6′ Leash
- Exam quality vinyl gloves
- Cohesive bandage wrap
- Insect sting relief pads
- Eye wash
- Cotton tipped applicators
NOTE: Before giving any non prescribed medication to a pet, consult with your Vet. Always know what human meds are OK to give to an animal, NEVER GUESS. For instance drugs containing acetaminophen (e.g. Tyelenol®) are very toxic, potentially fatal to both dogs and cats.
- Extra-strength non-aspirin tablets – Not for pets
- Aspirin tablets – coated, dogs can take coated aspirin but can cause stomach upset – vomiting, bloody stools if they take too much or for too long and every dog is different. Speak with your vet about dosage
- Ibuprofen tablets – Not for pets
- Imodium – for you and your dog
- Benadryl – for you and the dog
- Burn relief gel pack
- soap towelettes
- Alcohol cleansing pads
- Antiseptic cleansing wipes (sting free)
- Sunblock (if want sunblock for your dog get some specifically formulated for pets… do not just apply the human version)
- Lip balm/ointment w/ SPF
- 100% Pure Aloe Vera Gel – this is a wonder to have, if you don’t have burn cream, it helps. If it is just sunburn, this helps immensely. I used it while going through 7 weeks of cancer radiation treatment on my neck and throat. Skin was never affected while the inside of my mouth and throat had 1st degree burns.
- First aid burn cream
- 6″x3/4″ Finger splint
- 1/2″x5 yd First aid tape roll
- Butterfly wound closures, small, medium, large
- 4″x5″ Instant cold compress
- Sterile eye pad
- 5″x9″ Trauma pad – we substitute non-deodorized feminine protection maxi pads. Our St. Bernard cut the pad on his foot. It was a very deep wound and quite the bleeder. Over 3 days we used 5 maxi pads and kept them on with conforming gauze and sports tape. The gauze was so the tape wouldn’t stick to his fur or skin.
- 2″x2″, 3″x3″ and 4″x4″ Gauze dressing pads
- Bandage assortment
- Medium safety pins
- Tweezer, metal or needle-nose pliers. You want to make sure they are good tweezers, nothing worse than trying to get out a thorn or cactus needle and the tweezers won’t grab it. Dogs don’t have patience and they don’t realize that holding them down and pulling them around is because we are helping.
- Nail clippers, large and small (handy for all kinds of things).
- Hemostats – I had some from a fishing kit I bought. They come in very handy.
- AMA First Aid Guide
- Pet first aid guide
I take the first aid guides along because I am not a doctor, nurse or EMT and I have an awful memory. It’s a way to tell myself, don’t guess on how to do something. I don’t ask for directions when driving, but I think that’s a “guy thing.” I have heard from some avid outdoorsmen that they take a suture kit. I think that sounds like a fantastic idea, but I have trouble sewing up a hole in my shirt, I am not sure I want to sew up a gash in my leg or my dog’s. If you take something like that make sure you know how to use it. It is kind of like taking a compass, if you know how to use it is great, if you don’t know how to use it you better go get a GPS and a lot of batteries (I have both and take a GPS with lots of batteries and a compass).
I don’t carry a store bought first aid kit because many of the items I pack are multi-purpose. I can take the cotton from a maxi pad, rub Vaseline on it and start a fire if I am in dire straights. One strike of a match to that combo and you have an instant, hot flame even when it’s raining. That is the only reason. There are many great kits you can purchase in stores and online. They come with soft side carry bags and are very efficient. I put all of my first aid items in an old fishing tackle box and labeled it “First Aid”. If I am backpacking or hiking I change the quantities and put them in a color coded stuff sack that fits in my pack.
I hope this helps if you do not have a first aid kit already. If you have one, I hope this pointed something out you forgot. Remember, even if your pooch doesn’t get hurt there is a possibility you can injure yourself trying to keep your dog out of harms way.