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A Guide to Fido’s First Aid Kit: What’s in Your Doggy Bag?

In celebration of First Aid Kit Awareness, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of items to include in your dog’s emergency medical kit. Whether you buy one ready-made, or put it together yourself, it’s imperative to have this equipment in an airtight container that’s easily accessible in a place you won’t forget.

Important Contact Information and Paperwork

Be sure to include phone numbers and directions for your local veterinary clinic, animal hospital (if it’s not the same place) and poison control center. Remember, in a disaster situation, strangers or emergency workers may find your kit, so make sure this information is bold and legible, so your dog can be brought to safety in a rush. Necessary paperwork to include would be proof of vaccinations (e.g., rabies status), copies of important medical records such as allergies, a current photo of your dog in case he gets lost and ideally a replacement ID tag with his info that could attach to his collar in a pinch.


  • Gauze rolls for creating a muzzle for an injured animal or wrapping wounds (note: never create a muzzle if your dog is vomiting, choking, coughing or having difficulty breathing)
  •  Sterile non-stick bandages, towels or strips of clean cloth, to control bleeding or protect wounds
  • Adhesive tape for bandages, to secure gauze or bandages (do not use adhesive bandages meant for humans!)
  • Digital “Fever” Thermometer and Petroleum Jelly to check your dog’s temperature. Note: temperature must be taken rectally for an accurate read and a dog’s normal temperature should be between 100-103 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Eye dropper (or large syringe without needle) to administer oral medications, force-feed or to flush wounds
  •  Leash and harness to transport your pet if capable of walking without injury
  •  Blanket, mat or piece of board to be used as a stretcher in the event your dog becomes injured and must be carried
  • Thermal blanket to keep your dog warm during transport
  • Antibacterial wipes to cleanse wounds and sanitize
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  •  Ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Scissors with blunt ends
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Tweezers with a flat slant tip instead of the rounded variety to remove splinters or tick heads
  •  Tongue depressor to examine the mouth
  • Disposable safety razor in case you need to shave hair around a wound
  •  Flashlight and matches
  • Rubbing alcohol, which can be used as a cooling agent to aid heat stroke or fever
  • Bag balm to treat injured paw pads
  • Ear cleaning solution

Medicinal Treatments

  • Milk of Magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb poisons and toxins (always call poison control before treating a poisoned animal) or for upset stomach
  • Hydrogen Peroxide 3% to induce vomiting if your dog is poisoned (again, with permission from poison control). Make sure to check expiration dates and replace regularly.
  • Betadine solution, a type of antiseptic iodine for wounds to deter infection
  • Antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin
  • Eye ointment without cortisone
  • Epsom salts, which can be used with water to draw out infection and relieve itchy paws and skin
  • Styptic power to stop bleeding of torn toenails
  •  Benadryl for bug bites, stings and other allergic reactions (check dosage with your vet prior to administering)
  • Gentle pet sedative such as Rescue Remedy, which can help relieve stress, fright, fatigue and irritation due to injury and anxiety-producing events

Nutritional Supplies

  • A week’s supply (or more) of your dog’s food
  •  Can of soft pet food, which can reduce the effects of poisoning
  • Bottled water
  • Bowl or container to use for food and water
  •  Rehydrating solution such as Gatorade or Pedialyte for diarrhea or vomiting
  • Supplement such as Nutri-cal, NuVet Plus, Vitacal or Nutristat
  • High sugar source such as Karo syrup or sugared treats

If this seems like a long laundry list of somewhat unnecessary items, just remember that nobody ever regretted being “too prepared” in an emergency situation. You can never predict what will happen and it’s better to be safe when it comes to your furry child, than sorry.

The First Two Weeks: Warning Signs Your Dog Could Be Hypoglycemic

If your new puppy weighs four pounds or less, one important health condition to be aware of is Hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, also called low blood sugar, can be triggered by stress, overexcitement, or missing a meal. While treatable, it is important to know what to look for and to act quickly if you see any of the signs of Hypoglycemia in your pup.

Occurring mostly in toy breeds between six and 16 weeks of age, the syndrome is triggered by stressors like travel, introductions to new or large numbers of people, too much play or attention, a change in environment, or simply the overall adjustment into a new home.

Symptoms include (but are not limited to) a decrease in energy, loss of appetite, listlessness, overly cold or hot body temperature, vomiting and diarrhea. Your puppy may show one or more of these symptoms if his blood sugar is dropping. Remember, your puppy’s blood sugar level is his main energy source, and if it gets too low, medical intervention may be necessary.

Luckily, there are easy ways to prevent hypoglycemic attacks and reoccurring attacks. For the first two weeks, it’s your crucial responsibility to make sure your puppy is eating regular, frequent meals throughout the day. Have dry food available at all times and feed him canned food at least two times a day.

A sugar supplement can also help prevent or decrease the severity of an already-occurring hypoglycemic attack. Nutri-Cal is a high-calorie flavored gel ideal for boosting your puppy’s blood sugar, especially if he is a finicky eater. For dogs eating properly, give 1.5 teaspoons of Nutri-Cal per 10 pounds of the dog’s body weight daily. For dogs not eating well, give one tablespoon of Nutri-Cal per 10 pounds of dog’s body weight daily. Most puppies will lick the supplement off your finger, but you may also put a drop directly on the puppy’s tongue or roof of mouth. You should never force your puppy to swallow pills or supplements, nor should you push the supplement too far back in the mouth.

Nutri-Cal can be purchased from your local pet store or online and should be part of your preparation tool kit prior to bringing puppy home. In the event you’re unable to get some in time, a fine temporary alternative is honey or Karo syrup in the interim. Adding Pedialyte to your dog’s water (one teaspoon of Pedialyte per pint of water) is also a good idea to prevent dehydration, which can worsen the symptoms of Hypoglycemia.

Should your puppy show the symptoms listed above or less common symptoms like weakness, foaming around the mouth, dry tacky gums, staggering gait, fatigue, tremors or muscular weakness, start the following at-home treatment right away: If puppy is awake and able to swallow, administer the Nutri-Cal. Once your puppy seems more alert, provide a small amount of water. Continue to administer Nutri-Cal and water every 30 minutes until your puppy becomes more alert and starts to move about. If there is no response within 30 minutes, bring your pup to an emergency vet clinic.

Lastly, to maintain a calm household and keep stress levels low, take appropriate precautions such as limiting your puppy’s playtime to controlled intervals, having a minimal amount of people in the home, not leaving the puppy alone and keeping your puppy crated or gated within a small space until they get used to their larger surroundings and/or are house-trained.