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Riggins and Friends Review the Adventure Dog Heeler First Aid Kit

A first aid kit for dogs is a must for pups on the trail. We review one designed for day trips.

Wendy Newell  |  Jan 22nd 2016


The folks at Adventure Medical Kits have a line of first aid kits specifically for dogs. They sent over their smallest kit, the Heeler, for me to try out.

As a dog sitter, I have a pack of pups every day, and almost every day we hit the trails. For the amount of times we have spent in nature, I have been extremely lucky to rarely have used the first aid kit stowed in my day pack. In fact, the only living creatures who have used the kit are me and a fellow hiker we stopped to help during one of our adventures.

My first aid kit is made for humans, so I was really excited to get one for dogs. It turns out, they aren’t that much different!

Small enough to easily fit into Sissy's pack.

The Heeler kit is small enough to easily fit into Sissy’s pack. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

The company’s line of dog first aid kits features three sizes and styles, which vary depending on how long an adventure will be. The Heeler is small, lightweight, and easy to pack for a day hike. Perfect for my crew.

Here is what you will find inside the small waterproof pouch:

The contents of the Heeler.

The contents of the Heeler. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Wound care

  • Two sterile non-adherent dressings, 2-by-3 inches
  • Conforming gauze bandage, 2 inches
  • Two antibacterial hand wipes
  • Elastic bandage, self adhering, 1 inch
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Two antiseptic wipes

Sprain or strain

  • Triangular bandage

Medical instruction and instruments

  • Pet first aid manual
  • Splinter picker / tick remover forceps

Medication (when giving to animals, only give doses prescribed by your veterinarian)

  • Antihistamine (diphenhydramine 25 mg)

After tucking the pack into one of the pup’s packs, we headed out for a hike. At a break, we stopped to open the kit and see what we thought of its contents.

Riggins hopes he doesn't have to ever use this page of the the First Aid manual!

Riggins hopes he doesn’t ever have to use this page of the kit’s first aid manual! (Photo by Wendy Newell)

A few things stood out right away. This is a small kit. It’s meant to be small, but that means it really is for one emergency use, and a minor emergency at that. Of course, this is usually the kind of problem you are most likely to face — a scrape or cut that needs to be treated and covered on the trail. The contents of the kit will help you with that.

I was happy to see that it includes a triangular bandage and gives you instructions on how to use it as a muzzle. Any dog first aid class will teach you this skill. It isn’t difficult, and the instructions walk you through the process. A hurt or scared dog may lash out and snap at you, even if he’s your own loving baby. Muzzling will keep you safe so you can help your dog.

Riggins showing how the triangular bandage can be used for a muzzle.

Riggins shows how the triangular bandage can be used for a muzzle. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

I was also happy to see the roll of self-adhering elastic bandage. If your dog has ever been bandaged at the vet, you have seen this stuff. It’s great! It’s stretchy and sticky and does a wonderful job of holding a bandage onto fur without causing the animal any discomfort when it is removed. It’s such a great item, I added it to my human first aid hiking kit! Unfortunately, the roll found in the Heeler wasn’t very sticky, and I wasn’t able to use it as intended. I was able to tie it together to keep a bandage I put on Riggins’ leg in place, however.

Riggins really gets into his roll as hurt pup.

Riggins really gets into his roll as hurt pup. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Another standout item is the antihistamine. If you don’t have this as part of your hiking or even dog walking gear, stop right now and go get some. If your dog gets stung by a bee, this medicine can give him relief or buy you time to get to the vet in more serious cases. (Be sure to ask your vet how much you can safely give your dog before there is a problem.) I’ve found that dogs have a very high tolerance to this drug. Much higher than I do. The amount I would give Riggins would knock me out for a few days!

A great inclusion in the small kit.

A great item in the small kit. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

I also love the inclusion of the splinter picker. Tweezers like these can be extremely useful on a hike to remove a splinter, small pebble, or tick. Personally, I’m not great at getting ticks off dogs when they have already become embedded. I’m a little worried that the tweezers included in the kit wouldn’t provide enough control or a tight enough grip. Luckily, none of the pups in my care got a tick for me to try it out on!

Thankfully Bella's paw didn't have a tick to actually get out!

Thankfully, Bella’s paw didn’t have a tick to actually remove! (Photo by Wendy Newell)

I would have liked the Heeler to include a pair of scissors. Many small human and dog first aid kits don’t have this item. It makes bandaging difficult when you can’t cut the wrap. When the pack and I bandaged up a fellow hiker who tumbled down a hill, I found myself trying to cut a bandage with my teeth, my knife, anything I had handy. I managed to eventually cut the material, not well, and not without cutting myself, too! To be safe, throw a small pair of scissors into your pack next to your first aid kit. Just in case!

Wipes are an easy way to clean a cut especially on a dog.

Wipes are an easy way to clean a cut, especially on a dog. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins and his friends did a marvelous job summoning their inner Laurence Olivier to act injured for us to review the Heeler. I’m happy we didn’t have a real reason to use the kit, and I hope it stays that way!

Dogster scorecard

Quality: The quality of Adventure Medical Kits for humans quality is great, and the dog line is no different.
Style: The Heeler is small enough to carry in a day pack, and its reclosable and waterproof packaging gives you easy access to the items you need.
Function: Although a couple of items disappointed, overall the kit has what you need to help your pup if he gets hurt during a short excursion.
Creativity: It’s a first aid kit. It doesn’t need to be creative, just functionable.
Value: The Heeler is only $10. Even with its limitations, this is a great deal.

Bottom line

The Heeler is a solid small kit, and it’s inexpensive enough to buy one for your car and one for your day pack. If you are looking for a larger first aid pack, Adventure Medical sells two other dog adventure kits that are built to last for up to four days on the trails.

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About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.