By Dr. Sophie Liu, SF SPCA Resident in Behavior Medicine
Can you think of a better experience than enjoying the great outdoors with your beloved pup? Unfortunately, the great outdoors can be as perilous as it is beautiful! Before you embark on your next adventure, take a moment to plan and assemble a first aid kit to protect your dog. Pack these recommended items into a gallon-sized plastic bag or sturdy plastic container:
• Sterile water, such as saline contact lens solution – NOT hydrogen peroxide based cleanser. Sterile water is useful for rinsing out eyes or injuries.
• Stretchable bandage wrap, like Vetwrap. When using bandage wraps, it's important to pre-stretch the material prior to applying it to your pet and to wrap it lightly. The strength of the wrap comes from applying multiple layers, not how tightly it’s applied.
• Nonstick gauze pad, such as Telfa pads. Apply these to abrasions, cuts, and scrapes to protect the wound. These will not necessarily stop bleeding, but they help to protect against excessive contamination.
• Gauze squares. When applied with pressure to open wounds, these can stop bleeding.
• Bandage scissors. Useful for cutting bandage wraps or trimming nonstick gauze pads to fit the size of wound.
• Alcohol wipes. Isopropol alcohol is an excellent antimicrobial solution. Use alcohol wipes to lightly cleanse superficial wounds.
• Triple antibiotic ointment.
• Diphenhydramine tablets (Benadryl or generic).
• Muzzle. Animals in pain may be likelier to bite when being transported or handled. Train your dog to enjoy wearing the muzzle before you need to use it. For behavior and muzzle training resources, visit sfspca.org/behavior-training
Training can also keep your pup safe. Teaching a reliable recall, or “come,” can help get your dog away from danger or trouble. It’s important that your dog master this command before your next adventure! For help with training, visit sfspca.org/training
Finally, the best first aid safety kit item is your local emergency veterinarian's contact information; we suggest keeping it stored in your cell phone contacts.
Plan ahead, and go forth and enjoy all that nature has to offer – safely!
Want to learn more? The SF SPCA regularly offers a Pet First Aid and CPR class. Visit sfspca.org/training for details!
Photo Credit: Yuliya Strizhkina (Cartier)