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What to Put in a Dog First Aid Kit: 20 Vet-Approved Essential Items

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on May 14, 2024 by Dogster Team

White Shepherd dog with first aid kit bag

What to Put in a Dog First Aid Kit: 20 Vet-Approved Essential Items


Dr. Ashley Darby Photo


Dr. Ashley Darby

BVSc (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Whether you’re hanging out at home with your dog or taking them for a walk, an emergency situation is always a possibility, so having a first aid kit on hand can be crucial to ensuring your dog’s safety. We compiled a list of essential items to include in your own DIY first aid kit.

When choosing supplies, be sure to consider your dog’s specific needs. For example, if your dog is a senior or a working dog, you’ll require different items. Once you’ve assembled your kit, it’s recommended that you keep it with you at all times.

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The 20 Essential Items for a Dog First Aid Kit

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Bandages and Supplementary Supplies

1. Self-Adhering Bandages

Andover Healthcare PetFlex Dog, Cat & Small Animal Bandage

Self-adhering bandages have an elastic quality that enables them to be wrapped around a wound or used as a makeshift muzzle. They’re designed not to stick to your dog’s fur and are resistant to sweat and water, but not waterproof. Bandages come in handy to cover wounds; this helps keep them clean and also provides pressure for bleeding wounds. Once the wound has been tended to (clipped, flushed,cleaned), it can be covered with dressing and wrapped with self-adhering bandages. These bandages tighten once applied, so, before you apply it, stretch out the bandage and don’t pull it taut while applying. Tight bandages can cut off circulation and cause tissue death under the bandage. Your first-aid bandage just needs to last until you can get your pet to the vet clinic, so no more than a few hours.

2. Gauze Pads

Band-Aid Brand Cushion Care Non-Stick Gauze Pads

Gauze pads are useful for covering small wounds, and since they are layered, they absorb blood and fluids quite effectively. Using gauze pads can help keep wounds clean, and they are soft so that they won’t cause any unnecessary pain for your dog. These pads are also non-stick, so when the time comes to remove them, they are easy and comfortable to remove. Again, these are part of a first-aid dressing that only needs to last a few hours at most.

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3. Tweezers

Acronde 3 Pack Tick Remover Tool Set

Tweezers can be useful for removing ticks, which is why we recommend this three-pack kit. Each tweezer is designed to remove ticks of different sizes. They can also be used to remove splinters, foxtails, or other foreign objects that may become embedded in your dog’s skin.

4. Scissors

Utopia Care Medical Scissors

These medical scissors are angled and have blunted tips for safety purposes. They will assist in cutting any gauze or bandages to the appropriate size. Having a pair of scissors on hand may also simply prove useful in certain situations.

5. Magnifying Glass

Carson MiniBrite 3x Power LED Lighted Slide Out Magnifier with Protective Sleeve

We liked this magnifying glass because it has LED lights, making it ideal for low-light situations. It’s also compact and lightweight and comes with a built-in protective sleeve that prevents scratches. This tool can be especially useful for removing small ticks and splinters and examining wounds.

6. Syringes

Frienda Large Plastic Syringe

Eye droppers can be used to administer oral medications, but syringes are more versatile because they can also be used to flush wounds. These sterile 20ml syringes can be used straight out of the packaging to draw up saline and flush wounds. Once used, they are no longer sterile but can be cleaned and kept for non-sterile purposes like administering oral medication or measuring liquid.

7. Thermometer

iProven Dog & Cat Thermometer for Accurate Fever Detection

If you suspect your pet is ill or may have a fever, a thermometer will let you know for certain. This model is specifically for pets, and its flexible tip should make the process more comfortable. The most accurate method of taking temperature is a rectal temperature, but it is important not to put yourself at risk of being bitten if you decide to attempt this. Place the thermometer tip in some petroleum jelly and gently insert about 1-2 cm into your dog’s anus. Keep it there until the reading is complete- about 20 seconds. This thermometer is waterproof, so it’s easy to clean. If you are unable to do a rectal temperature, you can put the thermometer under your pet’s armpit, however this will be slightly less accurate. The normal body temperature is 101.0 to 102.5°F (38.3 to 39.2°C), but slightly lower can be normal in some circumstances.

Blankets and Towels

8. Towel

Frisco Microfiber Dog & Cat Bath Towel

It’s a good idea to keep a blanket or towel handy in case of bad weather, as it can keep your dog warm and dry. If your pup is anxious, wrapping them in a soft towel can help calm them down, and if they’re hypothermic or in shock, a microfiber towel can be helpful. Towels can also be used wet to cool a dog experiencing heat stress, or used to stabilize a fractured leg.

9. Thermal Blanket

Primacare HB-10 Emergency Foil Mylar Thermal Blanket

Thermal blankets can be used on most days except when it is exceptionally hot, or on dogs suffering from heatstroke. They are considered emergency blankets and help keep an injured dog warm. They are lightweight and waterproof and will take up little space in a first aid kit.

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Wound Cleaning Supplies

10. Saline Solution

Rite Aid Pharmacy Sterile Saline Wound Wash Spray

It is crucial to clean a wound before applying a bandage. The wound will have hair, dirt, sand, or other debris on it, and it should be rinsed thoroughly with a saline solution under moderate pressure. You can use plain water in a pinch, but sterile saline is isotonic and free of bacteria, making it a much better choice. Saline solution can also be used to flush the mouth or eyes if needed. The Rite Aid Pharmacy Sterile Saline Wash Spray is good for wounds, but the pressurized delivery is not ideal for sensitive areas like the eyes and mouth. A large bottle of plain 0.9% Sterile Saline will be a fantastic solution for all round use, and we recommend contacting your local experts for reliable brands.

11. Clippers

Wahl Professional Animal Bravura Pet, Dog, Cat & Horse Corded:Cordless Clipper Kit

When your dog has an injury or wound, their hair coat can become matted with blood or obstruct the view of the injury. Being able to clip the hair around a wound can help you clean and assess it. When doing this it is imperative that you don’t hurt your dog by touching the wound itself, rather focus on the normal skin and hair around the wound. Desensitize your dog to the sound and feel of the clippers so that they are more likely to tolerate clipping in an emergency situation. Take clipping slowly and muzzle your dog for safety if necessary.

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Wound Treatment

12. Antimicrobial Spray

Vetericyn Plus Antimicrobial Hydrogel Healing Aid Spray

After a wound is cleaned, you have the option of spraying it with an antibiotic or antimicrobial solution. Vetericyn contains hypochlorous acid, which is an effective antibacterial when used after a saline flush. It can be used for various skin wounds, such as allergic hotspots and cuts. It is also helpful in promoting faster healing of the wound.

13. Styptic Powder

Miracle Care Kwik-Stop Styptic Powder

Styptic powder is a valuable supply to have when you own a dog. It helps stop bleeding, which is handy if you accidentally cut the quick while trimming your dog’s nails. It can also be used to help stop bleeding from minor superficial cuts. You can apply it using gauze, cotton balls, or even a spoon.

14. Cotton Balls

Cliganic Organic Super Jumbo Cotton Balls

Cotton balls are ideal for applying topical medication, like antiseptics and creams, due to their soft texture. For cleaning cuts we recommend using a gauze pad, as the fibers in the cotton balls can be quite sticky.

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Hydration Supplies

15. Travel Bowl

Frisco Silicone Collapsible Travel Bowl with Carabiner

When you are traveling with your dog, remember to bring water and something for your pet to drink from. Dehydration is an emergency situation, so it’s better to be prepared! A traveling bowl is a great option because it can be folded flat and takes up less space than a traditional bowl. Don’t forget to pack enough water to keep your dog hydrated during the journey.

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Cleaning Supplies

16. Pet Grooming Wipes

Hepper Pet Wash Wipes

Grooming wipes are useful for cleaning your dog’s paws after a muddy walk. They can also come in handy for cleaning up blood or other fluids from your hands, or your dog’s fur. These wipes are alcohol free and hypoallergenic and contain cucumber and aloe. Don’t use grooming wipes directly on wounds, as they are not sterile or designed for wound care.

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Safety Supplies

17. Muzzle

Baskerville Ultra Dog Adjustable Basket Muzzle

Even if you’ve never used a muzzle on your dog, if they are under extreme duress and pain, it might be necessary for your safety and that of anyone trying to help your pet. A basket muzzle, also known as a cage muzzle, will protect you but still enable your dog to pant and eat food if necessary. Set your dog up for success by training them to accept the muzzle before the emergency occurs. If you are going to use a muzzle, apply it immediately, ideally before your dog becomes stressed by your interventions.

18. Slip Leash

Mendota Products Small Slip Solid Rope Dog Leash

Having a slip leash can come in handy in case your dog’s collar or leash accidentally comes off or breaks. With it, you can quickly and easily secure your pet. While you could also carry a spare collar and leash, a slip leash is more convenient and faster to ensure your dog’s safety.

19. Disposable Gloves

Dre Health Medium Clear Vinyl Medical Exam Gloves

A few pairs of disposable gloves in your first-aid kit won’t take up much space and can help keep your hands clean while treating your dog’s wounds. These can also help protect your dog from any harmful bacteria that may be on your hands.

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First Aid Guide

20. First Aid Guide

Dog First Aid

It is highly recommended that you bring along a first aid guide when venturing outdoors with your dog. It will enable you to quickly access information in the event of an emergency, especially if you are in a remote location with limited access to medical assistance. While investing in a comprehensive guide with detailed information is advisable, it could be weighty in your kit, so you could also opt for a compact book that focuses on more common emergencies.

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Extra Considerations

When buying supplies for your first-aid kit, always consider the size of your dog. You won’t want to buy small bandage wraps for a Great Dane or large bandages for a Shih Tzu.

Depending on your activity and destination, you can create one large kit or a few smaller kits. You should also have your dog’s documentation, such as vaccination and medical records, along with emergency phone numbers, including your own. It’s a good idea to have printed copies of these documents in your kit in case you don’t have access to your phone or internet connection.

You’ll also need a waterproof bag to store everything in, such as a colorful and eye-catching bag that is easy to identify, though Zip-Loc bags are inexpensive and enable you to see what’s inside. Also, consider bringing along extra treats for your dog when you’re out and about.

A Note On Hydrogen Peroxide and Vomiting Induction

Some veterinarians will sometimes recommend induction of vomiting at home using a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. This may be appropriate to include in your first aid kit however, not all cases of dietary indiscretion will warrant vomiting, and in some cases it can actually lead to further injury. Vomiting under the control of a veterinarian is a much safer choice. In most cases, owners will be able to reach a veterinarian in time for them to induce vomiting. The inclusion of 3% hydrogen peroxide in your first aid kit is a personal choice, however, its use MUST be under the guidance of a veterinarian and based on your individual circumstances.

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You can easily purchase a premade first-aid kit online, which will likely contain many items recommended here. But creating your own will enable you to be more familiar and comfortable with everything inside. Don’t forget to pick up a waterproof enclosed bag to put it all in!

Also, if your dog is on any medication, ensure that you bring it with you on any outings. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use your first-aid kit, but at least you’ll be well-prepared if the unimaginable happens.

Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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