First aid kit
That’s a good question! If I gave you my full answer, you would need to be towing a large trailer around with you just to fit all the kit, never mind the caravans for the vet and nurse. But here goes. Every first aid kit worth its salt is going to have bandages, dressings, a wee pair of pretty useless plastic scissors and some cotton wool. There may be some useful additions you have not thought of…
A decent mobile phone with your friendly vet’s telephone number firmly plumbed in under “Vet”. These days, some clients shop around relentlessly for the cheapest deal for every veterinary item and therefore fail to develop a great relationship and rapport with any one vet. I have no doubt that costs them big time in the long run. I appreciate my working dog clients. I enjoy their company. Generally, (with the odd exception!) their dogs are more amenable to handling and therefore easier to treat. They don’t leave bad debt. For these simple reasons, I am more than happy for them to send me a picture or video of a wound or injury so that I can offer free first aid advice. Technology is now so good that “FaceTime” can allow clear inspection of wounds, allowing appropriate action to be taken. I am happy to hand out my mobile number to anyone that wants it. They all know if I don’t answer immediately it is because I can’t and I can honestly say in all these years it has never been abused.
Plain simple water. Bottled if you are on the hill. Tap water if you are near buildings. A recent study by the NHS showed that tap water was as good as sterile saline and a great variety of antiseptics at cleaning wounds. Water is consistent with the important first aid principle; “First do no harm” because it will not (unless, of course, you submerge your patient) make anything worse than it already is. Wounds should be flushed with copious quantities to remove debris and bacteria. (Dilution, dear chap, is the solution to pollution!) My advice is, when you think you’ve
flushed enough, flush one more time! Similarly red, sore eyes can be gently irrigated over and over again.
An Elizabethan collar
After the initial trauma comes self-trauma and this often causes minor wounds to become a big problem. Contrary to the old
“The canine tongue does not possess potent antibacterial properties” “I saw a few dogs suffer minor injuries last season and their owners often seemed unprepared to deal with them. Is there a secret veterinary formula for a first aid kit?”
wives’ tale, the canine tongue does not possess potent anti-bacterial properties, nor can it cast a magic healing spell. What it can do, however, is turn a simple cut into a chronic lick granuloma that will plague a patient for the rest of his days. Do not allow dogs to lick wounds! Even the time taken to travel to the vets can be enough to do damage, so get the collar on right away.
There are some great little bungee cord type tourniquets that your vet can supply, which can be easily applied/removed with one hand. Apart from the obvious use of preventing death by severe blood loss, a tourniquet can helpfully stem blood flow to allow better inspection of a wound and can enable a pressure type bandage to be put on, so that bleeding does not start again when the tourniquet is removed. Remember! Look at the time when you apply it. It must be removed before 15 minutes or tissue damage will occur. Always have a vet check a pressure dressing. I have seen too many toes lost as a result of tight bandages.
A heavy duty polythene bag or, better still, a used intravenous fluid bag that your friendly vet can provide. Two reasons for this. Reason A: Once you’ve got that lovely bandage on, you want it to stay dry. Reason B: You can stick a cut foot in it and prevent your vehicle looking like an abattoir, while impressing your vet by not padding blood all over his waiting room.
Lastly, a good magazine, like this one. Faced with a broken leg, further damage can be prevented by applying cotton wool. Rolling the magazine around the leg and bandaging on top – the prefect splint. Once at the vets, it gives you something to read while he is operating…
Every first aid kit worth its salt is going to have bandages, dressings, a pair of scissors and cotton wool
Rapport Most vets will be happy to offer first aid
advice on the phone
A recent NHS study showed tap water was as good as sterile saline at cleaning wounds
Used drip bags, or a heavy duty polythene bag, are great for protecting bandages
Flushed Wounds should be flushed with water to remove debris and bacteria