A Dog's Eye View: Summertime means pet first-aid

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Camping, backpacking and hiking season is upon us.

Ready? Set? Pack!

Be it a daytrip or a week-long venture, you’ll probably remember to pack an emergency first-aid kit for you and your cohorts. But what about your dog? Just as you would for humans, making sure you have an emergency kit with some basic first-aid supplies for your dog will make you better prepared to deal with minor medical emergencies until you can get to your veterinarian’s office.

When deciding what to put in your dog’s kit, think about what possible mishaps might happen when out in the backcountry or even when driving to a dog-friendly site. These items should be included: gauze for wrapping wounds; nonstick bandages and adhesives; towels or strips of clean cloth to control bleeding and/or protect wounds; an eyedropper to flush eyes or wounds; a digital “fever” thermometer (ask your veterinarian to show you if you’re unsure of how to use one); and a space blanket to be used either as a source of heat or as a stretcher in an emergency. You also may want to consider Milk of Magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb poison and/or hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) to induce vomiting. But please confer with your veterinarian to make sure you understand when and when not to use these products.

A copy of your dog’s current medical records that lists any medications as well as vaccination history also should be included in your kit. A separate piece of paper with pertinent phone numbers — such as emergency contacts, the number of your pet’s veterinarian and/or the number of the closest emergency veterinary clinic — is a good idea, too. Include the telephone number for the Animal Poison Control Center, just in case.

How about some homeopathic remedies? These can be of great help when dealing with minor injuries that do not require medical monitoring or diagnosis, such as minor bruises, bites or stings, travel sickness, anxiety or digestive issues. Again, consult with a veterinarian for guidance before adding these pieces to your kits.

Having a pet emergency kit in your car may be of great value if you find yourself stranded somewhere far from medical assistance. Keep in mind that this kit is not designed to replace your veterinarian. Proper diagnosis and treatment by a trained professional is crucial. But a well-provisioned emergency kit may help save your pet’s life.

Lisa Mason is an experienced dog training instructor with the Total Teamwork Training group. Her specialties include new puppy owner education and management.

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