What Should be in Your Dog Emergency Kit?

I often think about Ben Franklin’s quote “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.“ These words ring true when it comes to our four-legged fur kids as well, so preparing an emergency kit in advance is critical should a need arise. What to include should obviously be tailored to your situation and your dog, but here are some key essentials that should fit inside every doggie emergency bag. They are grouped into three general categories.
The Basics: Just as we need food, water, and shelter during an emergency, these basic necessities cannot be overlooked for our pooch. Having enough nutrients, medications, and preventatives to last for a reasonable period of time is vital. In addition, bring a dog bed or crate so he or she can feel comfortable and/or be confined. Collapsible crates and collapsible food and water dishes are preferable to minimize space. Include a leash, collar, and dog ID tags with your equipment, as these are necessary for basic care and safety regardless of the situation.
Documentation: Paperwork is generally not the first thing one thinks of in an emergency, so it can often be overlooked. Keep hard copies of all important pet information in a folder in a waterproof ziplock bag. Our practice, like many others, keeps an electronic medical record that we email clients so they can access their pet’s medical history including prior appointments, previous laboratory results, medications prescribed, and their vaccine history and reminders. I recommend printing out a hard copy of key information and keeping it in this folder so it is readily accessible during an emergency when internet and cellular service may be unreliable. A picture with your dog’s name, contact information, normal feeding schedule, and any medications they are on should also be included. In addition to your dog’s medical history, keeping contact information for your primary veterinarian, emergency veterinary hospital, Animal Poison Control number (888-426-4435), and even prior boarding facilities or a family friend who cared for him or her is helpful in case you are unable to take your dog with you in the given situation. Having this information at hand so other people can locate it is important to ensure continuity of care for our canine companions when an emergency occurs.
First Aid Kit: It is impossible for any first aid kit to treat every emergency, but here aresome basics to keep at home and take with youshould the need arise. As an owner of Retrievers and a veterinarian who has performed plenty of foreign body surgeries, I am acutely aware that dogs can and will eat anything. In these instances, if Animal Poison Control or your veterinarian recommends inducing vomiting, hydrogen peroxide often can be used to induce emesis. For cuts, scrapes, and punctures one should have gauze, triple antibiotic ointment, and vet wrap to cover the wound prior to seeking further medical attention.
An Elizabethan collar (E-collar) to prevent self-trauma can stop a minor problem from escalating into a major one and allow a wound to heal properly after it occurs. Dawn dishwasher soap is used to decontaminate wildlife and is helpful for similar situations with your dog as well as a quick cleanup. In addition to your pet’s normal medications and preventatives, keep a probiotic and/or veterinaryapproved antacids to combat potential stomach issues. Finally, with painful trauma even the best trained dog may try to bite. It is important to have a muzzle so you can safely examine, transport, and treat your dog.
No one can predict when an emergency will occur, but planning in advance with an easy-tograb bag or backpack of key supplies for your canine could make a major difference during a crisis. Hopefully the situation never arises when you will need your emergency kit, but planning in advance, versus failing to plan, is always the preferred course of action.
Dr.Cryan is the founder and chief Veterinarian of NoVa Mobile Vet and is a local from Northern Virginia. He graduated from the Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology before obtaining his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia and his veterinary degree from Virginia Tech. Dr. Cryan currently resides in Springfield with his wife Alicia and their three children, guide dog dropout Bliss, and two cats. Contact or call 1-866-946-PETS (7387).

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