You never know when an accident will happen. It is important to be prepared with a pet first aid kit at home in case of any animal emergencies. A smaller version can be kept in your car for outings with your Labrador.
Items can be stored in a small plastic container and should be restocked if they get used or expire.
Below are some suggestions of items to include in your Labrador’s first aid kit:
First aid guide and CPR instructions
It’s great to have all the supplies set and ready, but first you’ll need to know what to do with them! A small pocket-sized pet first aid book can be found at most pet stores. Invest in one and place bookmarks at the most important pages, such as the section on cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and others that may be necessary for your Labrador.
The muzzle should be fitted specifically to your dog. Know and practice how to apply a bandage muzzle as well incase the fitted one won’t be practical. Of course your Labrador would normally never even hurt a fly, but you have no idea how they would react in an emergency situation. Labradors in pain could be dysphoric and may snap unintentionally. It is best to secure the muzzle before attempting any first aid to avoid any accidents.
You don’t want to handle any nasty things like open wounds without any personal protective gear. Using gloves will also help prevent the introduction of dirt and bacteria into wounds that your labrador has.
Tweezers are essential. They can be used to remove dirt or debris from a wound or to remove a splinter stuck in the paw – regular household tweezers are fine for this. You should also have a pair of special fine tipped tweezers for tick removal. The pointy tips of these will allow you to get as close to the skin as possible, to grasp onto the head of the tick for easy removal.
A sterile saline solution is good for ridding wounds of dirt and contaminants that may potentially lead to an infection.
Saline solution is also useful to flush out the eyes if your dog is squinting or seems to have something stuck in his eye.
Plastic syringes of varying sizes
Following on from the above point, plastic syringes of varying sizes are useful for cleaning out wounds and flushing out eyes. It’s good to have a range between 1 ml to 50 ml.
They can also be used as an aid to administer medications to uncooperative pets, usually by either crushing and dissolving tablets or by giving your labrador a syringe of water to help wash down pills.
Gauze swabs can be used for many things including cleaning wounds, wiping out ear wax, as part of a pressure bandage for an actively bleeding wound, or as additional padding for bandages.
Disinfectant and wound spray
After cleaning a wound with saline, it is important to disinfect it and use a wound spray to decrease any possibility of infection.
Hibitane solution and iodine scrub are commonly used in veterinary clinics and can usually be purchased in small vials.
Cuts and scrapes are very common especially in active and inquisitive Labradors. It is important to have a variety of bandaging materials to apply pressure to wounds and protect them from the environment. Have at least a few different sizes of gauze wrap and a ‘vet wrap’ cohesive bandage.
Learn a few common bandaging techniques and know how to tell when a bandage is applied too tight. Swelling and heat are two such signs you should look out for.
Scissors and a disposable razor
Scissors are useful for cutting bandage materials or matted dog fur. A disposable razor is useful for trimming down the fur around a wound so you are able to get a better look and properly treat the area.
This is used to induce vomiting when a dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have. Labradors are notorious for this! Vomiting should be induced after ingestion of toxic substances like chocolate or rat poison, but in some cases it may be too late or detrimental to make your dog vomit (for example if they ate something caustic that could cause damage to the oesophagus on the way up) so always check with a vet before administering.
Hydrogen peroxide is not recommended to use on wounds.
Glucose syrup or a packet of dissolvable glucose powder is essential to have on hand for blood sugar emergencies. Learn the signs of low blood sugar – commonly lethargy or weakness, lack of coordination, and restlessness.
Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) can be fatal. A sugar syrup should be administered only as a temporary solution, it is important to seek further veterinary care immediately to determine underlying causes.
Silver nitrate sticks
Trimming your labrador’s nails is pretty straight forward, but it only takes one second for them to twitch and for you to cut off a little too far. The ‘quick’ is the part of the nail that contains the blood vessel which often bleeds profusely when cut. Silver nitrate sticks can be applied to the tip of the nail that is bleeding as a quick and easy chemical cautery solution for nail clipping accidents.
Penlight or torch
It helps to be able to see clearly what you are treating so this is where a torch (with working batteries) would come in handy.
A focussed light source helps determine the extent of your dogs injuries and can be used to test pupillary light reflexes (the normal response of your labradors eye’s to light).
Rectal thermometer and lubricant
If something seems a bit off with your labrador, the body temperature is a good indicator of whether he is actually sick or just being lazy. For a healthy dog, the average temperature is 38 °C / 101 °F.
Know how to help regulate your dog’s temperature in the event of an abnormal reading. If the temperature is high for example with heat stroke, fans and wetting the dog’s fur can help cool them down.
Keep an emergency blanket in your first aid kit for warmth in cases where the body temperature is below normal.
Individual Medication Requirements
These will be medicines specific to your dog. If your Labrador takes any pills, you should keep a few days supply of their medications in the first aid kit. One day you may accidentally run out and in certain health conditions it is extremely detrimental to skip doses – even if it is just one.
If your dog is prone to ear infections, it is a good idea to have ear cleaner available. Does your dog have reoccurring eye problems? Non-medicated eye ointment will help keep the eye lubricated to prevent dry eyes. Tailor to your Labrador’s needs!
Always check with your veterinarian before administering any ‘old meds from the last time he had this problem’, and advise them of any new symptoms your dog may be showing.
An antihistamine is a must have for some dogs. Diphenhydramine is commonly used as symptomatic relief of allergies. Imagine being out in the country at least a few hours from any veterinary clinic when your dog gets stung by a bee. You didn’t think he had any allergies, but puffy eyes and hives are just the beginning… Ask your vet to calculate the correct dose for your labrador and write this down incase you aren’t able to contact them at the time. Revise this dosage regularly with weight changes.
Keep an eye on the expiry date of medications and rotate them frequently with new stock.
Also known as the ‘bucket’ or ‘cone of shame’, an Elizabethan style collar is essential in instances where your Labrador is constantly licking or chewing at an area – this does not help the healing process!
They are available in a variety of sizes, so check that you have the correct fit for your dog.
Emergency numbers and pet health records
A copy of your local veterinarian’s contact number as well as an emergency clinic or after hours phone number is essential. Include addresses and driving directions. This information should ideally be on a laminated card and easily accessible.
The professionals will be able to tell you exactly what to do in an emergency and advise you of the proper way of transporting your dog to the clinic.
Keep a current photo of your Labrador as well as his microchip and identification details in case of any emergencies where you are separated from your companion.
In instances where your regular veterinarian is not available and you need to take your dog elsewhere, it will be important to provide them with a copy of your labrador’s medical records and proof of up to date vaccinations. Keep medical records as well as a list of allergies and current medications up to date.
A pet first aid kit is an important thing for any dog owner to have, both in their home and in their car if travelling with their pet. But it is equally important to keep it out of reach of both your dog and any children, and to remember to call your vet immediately if you have any concerns about your Labrador.
Information from www.thelabradorsite.com