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Dog First Aid Kit: 16 Must-Haves

first aid kit for dogs
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If you and your canine companion like to seek out new experiences and conquer the great outdoors together, you need a dog first aid kit to keep her as healthy, safe, and happy as possible. 

Here are a few items you’ll need to prepare your pup for activities like travel, hunting, camping, and hiking, and to have with you on your adventures.

First Aid Kit for Dogs

You are ready to hit the road, best friend by your side! So what should you have on hand? First, make sure to have enough food and fresh drinking water for the both of you. There are always unforeseen circumstances that can occur, so make sure neither of you will be hungry or thirsty, just in case. 

If your travel buddy is on medication, be sure to bring enough for the whole trip, plus a couple of extra days’ worth, just in case. It is also a good idea to keep a hard copy of your pet’s prescriptions with you, just in case they are misplaced or lost, and need to be refilled in a pinch. 

There are dog first aid kits available on the market, such as Rayco International Ltd. Pet First Aid Kit. But you can also make your own by having these handy items available.

Medical Records & Emergency Contact Information

It’s a good idea to keep a copy of your pets’ medical records in your dog first aid kit, and to have any contact information for veterinarians in the local area of where you may be traveling. You can also take a picture of your pet’s records and save them on your phone.

Bottled Water

dog drinks bottled water

An extra bottle should be kept on hand in case of dehydration, and to clean wounds.

Collapsible Dog Bowl

Keep your dog fed and hydrated with a convenient, portable and durable bowl.

Antiseptic Wipes

Antiseptic wipes can be used to clean any trauma to the skin, such as cuts, abrasions, and burns, until you can get your pet to a veterinarian for wound care. All of these can be found at your local pharmacy (any brand will work well). 

Bandaging Material

pet owner bandages dog’s paw

Gauze, non-stick bandage pads, medical bandaging tape, and cotton balls are used to keep wounds, lacerations, or injuries covered and clean, as well as for stabilizing any soft tissue or orthopedic injury until a veterinarian can be seen. Just be sure not to make any bandages too tight and cut off circulation. Make sure you look for Telfa non-adherent bandage pads so they won’t stick to your dog’s fur. 

Bandage Scissors

While designed to cut bandaging material, bandage scissors can also be used to clip the hair around open wounds in an emergency. However, your best course of action is to get to a veterinarian as soon as possible instead of trying to clip, clean, and bandage an open wound on your own.


A simple, useful tool, tweezers can be used to remove debris from the skin or remove ticks, bugs, or plant material that may be stuck. Be sure to check your dog’s entire body at least twice a day while being outdoors, and be sure to check every nook and cranny, including between the toes, in the ears, and in the mouth.

Extra Collar, Leash & ID Tags

Just in case your dog loses her belongings out on the trail, it’s always good to keep a spare with you. Be sure to keep a second set of ID tags, too!

Antibiotic Ointment

Keep antibiotic ointment on hand to treat superficial wounds, lacerations, or burns until a veterinarian can assess the trauma. Any brand will work well. 

Latex Gloves

person wearing latex gloves opens first aid kit

Always wear gloves when handling a pet with open wounds. Again, it’s generally better to leave open wounds alone and get to a veterinarian as soon as possible instead of trying to address it yourself. 

Eye Dropper or Syringe Without the Needle

These can be used to administer water, medications, or to irrigate wounds or lacerations.

Styptic Powder or Pencils

If the quick of your dog’s nail is cracked or cut short and bleeds, styptic powder is a fine powder that can be packed into the nail to stop the bleeding fast. Kwik Stop styptic powder works well and includes pain-relieving benzocaine.

Nylon Muzzle

Keep a soft nylon muzzle on hand, even if your dog is the best dog in the world and would never bite you! I know it is hard to believe, but it is possible that when a dog is injured, in pain, or in shock, that she won’t know what she is doing. She can be unaware of what is going on around her and may lash out to protect herself. No matter how good of a dog your best bud may be, she won’t mean it, but may need to be muzzled to be moved or have her wounds cleaned.

Before You Go: Broad-Spectrum Parasite Protection

pet owner checks dogs for ticks

Before heading out into the world, you want to ensure your hiking pal is protected against the wide range of worms she may encounter. Many of the intestinal parasites that can be picked up from the soil outside are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to people.

Interceptor® Plus (milbemycin oxime/praziquantel) is a tasty chew labeled for the prevention of heartworm disease and to treat and control adult hookworm, roundworm, whipworm and tapeworm infections in dogs. It is given monthly and can be prescribed by your veterinarian. So why is it so important?

Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, which can be found both outdoors and inside your home, so your dog should be on year-round protection. Heartworms can grow to reach up to 1 foot (25 centimeters) in length within your dog’s heart and lungs in just a few months. Meanwhile, hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and tapeworm are all included in the guidelines from the Companion Animal Parasite Council, which recommends year-round broad-spectrum parasite control for all pets.

When it comes to ticks and fleas, it’s much easier and more cost effective to protect against an issue, rather than try to address it later in the game. Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases (including Lyme disease, which can be transmitted to humans as well as dogs), and fleas can carry tapeworm eggs. Credelio® (lotilaner) is a chewable tablet that kills adult fleas, treats and prevents flea infestations, and treats and controls tick infestations for one month in dogs.

See important safety information below for Interceptor® Plus and Credelio®.

Lastly, be sure that your pooch is up to date on all vaccinations, and is checked regularly for intestinal parasites, even when on broad-spectrum protection. Regular testing and check-ups can help detect any issues and keep your dog healthy. 

The Final Word

Remember, these first aid kit items may be necessary if your dog suddenly injures herself while camping, hiking, hunting, or playing outside, so keep them on hand while traveling and at home.

Credelio Indications

Credelio kills adult fleas and is indicated for the treatment and prevention of flea infestations, treatment and control of tick infestations (lone star tick, American dog tick, black-legged tick, and brown dog tick) for one month in dogs and puppies 8 weeks and older and 4.4 pounds or greater.

Credelio Important Safety Information

Lotilaner is a member of the isoxazoline class of drugs. This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, incoordination, and seizures. Seizures have been reported in dogs receiving this class of drugs, even in dogs without a history of seizures. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders. The safe use of Credelio in breeding, pregnant or lactating dogs has not been evaluated. The most frequently reported adverse reactions are weight loss, elevated blood urea nitrogen, increased urination, and diarrhea.  For complete safety information, please see Credelio product label or ask your veterinarian.

Interceptor Plus Indications

Interceptor Plus prevents heartworm disease and treats and controls adult roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections in dogs and puppies 6 weeks or older and 2 pounds or greater.

Interceptor Plus Important Safety Information

Treatment with fewer than 6 monthly doses after the last exposure to mosquitoes may not provide complete heartworm prevention. Prior to administration of Interceptor Plus, dogs should be tested for existing heartworm infections. The safety of Interceptor Plus has not been evaluated in dogs used for breeding or in lactating females. The following adverse reactions have been reported in dogs after administration of milbemycin oxime or praziquantel: vomiting, diarrhea, decreased activity, incoordination, weight loss, convulsions, weakness, and salivation. For complete safety information, please see Interceptor Plus product label or ask your veterinarian.

Disclaimer: The author received compensation from Elanco US Inc., the maker of Interceptor Plus and Credelio, for her services in writing this article. Recommendations in this article are the author’s and are not recommendations of Elanco. Other company and product names are trademarks of their respective owners.

Credelio and Interceptor are trademarks of Elanco or its affiliates. 

© 2020 Elanco.  PM-US-19-2122

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