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Canine First Aid: How to Keep Your Pup Safe in the Backcountry

With warmer weather on the horizon, it’s time to get the hiking boots, mountain bikes, and backpacks ready for action. But what about our four-legged best friends’ gear? The most important piece of gear you can add to your collection this season is a Canine First Aid Kit. These can be easily created from items around the house or over the counter at your local pharmacy. Wounds are by far the most common injury we see in dogs who venture into the back­country. Be sure to have sterile saline and povidone iodine in your kit. Hydrogen peroxide and alcohol damage tissue and delay wound healing; avoid using these on any wound. Syringes (with­out needles) are available at most pharmacies. The first step of wound management is flush­ing with cleaning solution. Dilute iodine 1 part to saline 10 parts to make your cleaning solution. Put the solution in your syringe and flush the wound generously. 

In addition to cleaning supplies, bandage materials help protect wounds while we ven­ture out of the mountains to seek proper veterinary care. First, we start our bandages with antibiotic ointment (Neosporin) on a nonadher­ent gauze pad. Next, wrap roll gauze around the affected area on top of the gauze pad. Ensure the bandage stays in place with a secondary layer using self-adherent wrap. Certain areas of your dog’s body may not be possible to bandage, but be sure not to skip step #1: cleaning. So far we have wound cleaning supplies and ban­dage materials; now, lastly, let’s talk about medications. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is arguably the most important oral medication to keep handy for your adventures. Dogs often have allergic reactions to bug bites or other unknowns while exploring the outdoors. A quick dose of Benadryl (10 mg for every 10 lbs body weight) can keep more severe allergic reactions at bay until your reach your veterinarian. 

With these materials you will have every­thing necessary for a First Aid Kit to protect your dog in the wilderness. You can always reach out to your veterinarians at Evergreen Animal Hospital for more advice on keeping your pets as healthy as possible. 

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