Talking Pets: Do you have a first-aid kit for pets?

June 1, 2012 

Ah, summertime. Although the calendar says it's still spring, air conditioners are humming and we're already looking for shady places to park the car.

School will be out soon and more families will be heading outdoors to play. Pet families will be among them.

Now, while cats might look at them as if to say "Are you serious?" and birds and fish would prefer to stay indoors, the family dog will be right there with them, begging for one more throw of the Frisbee or tennis ball.

And just as families need to keep a first-aid kit stocked for minor summertime mishaps, pet families, too, should make sure they have some items on hand for an animal's brush with nature.

Here are a few things I keep on hand. Chances are, they're already in your medicine cabinet.

n Baby wipes (unscented) for cleaning minor wounds.

n Kwik Stop, for minor cuts. This is like ground styptic pencil and will stop minor bleeding from cuts or nail clipping gone awry. I keep ours in a zipper bag with a couple of cotton swabs, because a dampened swab will "grab" the powder and make it easier to apply. But you can also pluck some from the container, especially if you need more than a pinch.

n Antibiotic ointment, for minor scrapes. I used to buy Panalog at the vet's office, but now I just share my Neosporin. That's one less thing to have to buy.

n An old, clean bandanna, for wrapping wounds. When she was younger, my Ella had a scrape on her neck from barreling through the doggie door. (Guess she didn't realize she had grown some!) After a nice oatmeal bath to clean the wound, I dried it, applied Neosporin and wrapped a bandanna around her neck to keep the would clean. By the next day, it was nearly healed.

n Benadryl, or generic dyphenhydramine, for bee stings. Check with your vet now, before an emergency arises, to see how much to give your dog.

I have found that dyphenhydramine comes mostly in 25mg doses. My Reba, who is about 45 pounds, got hives one time and the vet's office said she could have one 25mg caplet every 12 hours until they went away. So the doses were perfect for her, but the caplets are good to get because they are scored and you can break them for smaller dogs.

I also like to have some gelcaps on hand for topical application to a sting. We haven't had to use them yet, but we have lots of wasps around our house so I figure it's only a matter of time.

You can buy the brand-name Benadryl, but the generic works just fine. You can find it sold as sleep aid, and at my drug store you can get 100 caplets of their brand for about $6. That's what you will pay for about 30 Benadryl.

n A clean pair of old socks, for foot injuries that need to be wrapped. These go along with . . .

n A roll of pressure bandage. Dogs don't do well with regular bandages. First, adhesive bandages will not stick to a hairy leg, and second, dogs like to chew them off. Pressure bandages wrap snugly without adhesive. Problem solved. (Unless you have a dog like I did that would chew out staples.) And that brings up . . .

n The Cone of Shame. You can buy these, but most of the people I know who have them got them from their vet after an operation or resultant staple-chewing incident. They can't take it back when you're done with it, so you might as well keep it on hand.

n Instructions for pet CPR. (Find a printable version with this column at Bradenton.com.)

As always, talk with your vet about any people medications you want to give your dog. Most dogs can have aspirin, but stay away from acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

With a little knowledge and a little planning, your summertime can be a breeze.

M.K. Means, Herald copy editor, can be reached at 745-7054.

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