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Although most of us don’t love thinking about emergencies and worst-case scenarios, it sure feels great when we have the right tools and action plans if something unexpected does come up. When a little forethought and preparation can help keep our furry friends safe in a crisis, that’s even better!

While no one can be expected to step into their veterinarian’s expert shoes, having a few key resources readily available in a canine emergency kit can go a long way to providing at-the-scene first aid to your dog.  Here are twelve essential items to keep handy in your emergency kit, so that you can be prepared for most small incidents that might arise during walks or other outings:

 

Wondering what each of these twelve items could be used for in a crisis? Read on!

Tick Remover

Tick removers are special tools that are sometimes a little easier to manipulate than tweezers to remove a tick – simply spread your dog’s fur away from the tick, slide the notch of tick remover under the tick’s body as close to your dog’s skin as possible. As you slide the device forward, it will remove the embedded tick. Make sure that you’re able to clean the area thoroughly once you return home, and keep an eye out for any ongoing signs of irritation or infection – contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

When coming in the house after a walk, it’s a great idea to give your dog a quick brush to remove any ticks before they have a chance to bite, and to lower the chances of them entering your home. Remember that keeping up on your dog’s flea and tick medication can also help keep them protected. If you’re wondering what the best treatment option is for your dog, check in with your veterinarian at your next appointment, and they’ll be happy to recommend the best product for your situation.

Saline Eye Flush

Having a small squeeze-bottle of sterile saline at the ready can be very handy to help flush out little pieces of dirt, debris, or any other contaminants from your dog’s eye. Holding your dog’s head steady, gently drop the solution into the affected eye drop by drop, allowing them to blink frequently to help clear away the foreign material. In a pinch, the saline can also be used to flush debris from a small wound, or moisten some of your gauze to clean a wound before bandaging it.

Baby Socks

Keeping a pair or two of baby socks in your emergency kit can be very handy – if your dog sustains an injury to their paw, whether a small nick or slice or a larger wound – covering it with a sock can help keep it clean and protected until you can get your pup somewhere more convenient for further treatment. If you have bandaged the wound with the other materials in your kit, slipping a sock on top can add extra protection and help keep the bandaging in place.

Bandage Scissors

Scissors can come in handy to trim fur away from a wound site, as well as for cutting off pieces of gauze and vet wrap to use for bandaging. Blunt-nosed scissors like bandage scissors are best, as there is less risk of injury from sharp blade tips while you’re using them on an animal who might not stay as calm and still as you would like.

Gauze

Having gauze pads or several rolls of gauze in your emergency kit can be helpful to absorb blood or help in bandaging a wound. Although they may seem less daunting, it’s best to avoid the small squares of gauze – larger is better, as you can always trim smaller pieces with your bandage scissors, but if the gauze is not large enough or absorbent enough for the wound in question, you’ll be adding more struggle to a tricky situation. Rolls of gauze are particularly useful as they can also be used to tie on material or even as a temporary muzzle if needed.

Vet Wrap

Keeping a roll of vet wrap in your emergency kit can come in handy in several situations – because this wrap is stretchy and also a little sticky (so it will adhere well to itself when pressed lightly together) it is a great way to create pressure on a wound site after placing some gauze on top of the injury. Just make sure that when you’re wrapping material like vet wrap around a body part that the bandage isn’t wrapped too tightly, cutting off circulation. A little while after you’ve wrapped a wound, check the area below the wrapping (the side further from your dog’s core) to make sure it isn’t either chilled or excessively swollen. Either condition is a sign that the bandage should be loosened.

Styptic Powder

Styptic powder (commonly known as ‘kwik-stop’) can be used to make blood clot quickly. While it shouldn’t be used on larger flesh wounds – it burns quite a bit when applied – it can be very useful for minor wounds like toenails that are bleeding after being broken or worn down on a walk. Just pour a little bit of the powder from the bottle into the lid, set the lid down on the ground while still holding it steady, and use your other hand to press your dog’s toenail into the powder.

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

These antihistamine tablets can be used in cases where your dog is having an acute allergic reaction to something they have recently encountered – they may become extremely itchy, or they may have received an insect bite or bee sting. Always confirm dosage with your veterinarian before including this medication in your kit; the correct dose depends on the dog’s weight, and a typical recommended dose is 2 mg/kg of body weight given every 8 hours to start.

Small Bag of Treats

A sealed bag of treats is a great addition to your canine emergency kit (as long as you keep the expiry date in mind, and freshen up your stash every once in a while!). Treats can serve as a distraction if you need to do something a little uncomfortable or painful, as well as providing a little comfort once you’ve got the situation back under control. They can also be used to lure your dog away from a dangerous area, or entice them to drop whatever they have in their mouth if they’ve gotten into something they shouldn’t.

Slip Lead

Keeping a slip lead in your canine emergency kit can sure be handy in a pinch. These are the leashes that don’t require a separate collar – the leash forms its own loop at the bottom to slide around your dog’s neck. If your dog’s regular collar breaks or they slide free from it, a slip lead can be a quick and easy way to get them back under control. This can also come in handy if you come across a wayward pup in your travels – it’s much easier to keep them close while you have a chance to find their family if you can keep them tethered!

Pillowcase

One thing that you might not think to have in your canine emergency kit is a pillowcase! You can also add a blanket or towel depending on the amount of space you have, but even in a small kit a pillowcase can be quite compact. This material can be used to pack a large wound, to wrap or carry items, and can even serve as a sling or harness if you need to help support your dog if they are not able to walk on their own – just roll the pillowcase into a long tube and slide it under your dog’s hips, holding the two ends above their back to support their hind end.

Emergency Vet Contacts

Last but not least, having a reliable list of contacts at the ready is key in an emergency. Know where the nearest help is available for your dog during the day and after-hours; having several options if you are lucky to live in an area that has multiple emergency hospitals is even better. Consider adding in the numbers for pet poison control, your local animal controls or rescue groups, and any organizations that assist with lost or missing pets.

Having these items easily accessible ensures that you’ll be able to actually find and use them if a situation arises. Choose a collection of items that can be packed neatly into a container and stored in your car, and let family members know that the kit exists and what it holds. Mark on your calendar every few months to go through the kit and replace any used or expired items, and consider any additions you might want to make.