It’s always a good idea to keep a few things on hand in case of an emergency with your dog. Whether it’s something as minor as a toenail cutting episode that accidentally hits the nail ‘quick’ or something as life-threatening as bloat. This is not a comprehensive list and is not meant to substitute for trained veterinary advice. Always talk to your vet, especially when it comes to a serious medical situation. But you can be prepared for a variety of situations when your dog might need help with a minor cut or scrape. Always read the label regarding safety for use across species or age.
Ear cleaning solution. Use something gentle and made specifically for dogs. Some dogs will require regular weekly cleaning and others can go months without it. If you’ve ever had a dog susceptible to ear infections or yeast than you know how important it is to keep your dog's ears clean. For dogs predisposed to infection, Zymox Otic w/ Hydrocortisone can be really helpful to have on hand.
Benadryl (Diphenhydramine). A quick acting antihistamine can help in the case of bee stings or hives due to allergic reactions. Talk to your vet about long-term use in treating seasonal or food allergies. An acceptable dose is about 1mg per 12 lbs., twice a day. So a 50 lb. dog could take two adult capsules. For long-term support against seasonal or food allergies, you may want to look at a product like Only Natural Pet’s Aller Free, that contains herbs, essential fatty acids, and other whole foods known for their effects in supporting the immune system and inflammatory response.
OTC Triple Antibiotic Ointment. A product containing Bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B is preferred. This can be safely used for dogs and cats to treat occasional scrapes or wounds and is a helpful OTC therapy to stock.
Hydrocortisone spray 1.0%. Hydrocortisone spray can provide quick relief to reduce swelling, itching, and inflammation associated with hot spots rashes or dermatitis. May not be safe to use on pregnant or lactating females. As always check the label.
‘Super Clot’ by Synergy Labs or styptic powder. If you’ve ever cut your dog’s nail too short, you know how awful and messy it can be. Super Clot not only works to help form a clot and stop the bleeding by it also contains Lidocaine, to help receive any pain, and Benzethonium Chloride, which is safe and effective disinfectant. Styptic powder is a perfectly acceptable alternative, but it doesn’t provide pain relief or contain a disinfectant, plus it can be messy to use and can often become dried out while sitting in your cupboard, rendering it unusable.
Antimicrobial wound spray. Find one that contains an active ingredient like Benzalkonium Chloride 0.2%, Chlorhexidine Gluconate 0.05%, or Hypochlorous Acid (like Vetericyn Wound Care which is safe for both dogs and cats) and preferably lists aloe vera as a supporting ingredient. It can be used to treat minor skin irritations and kill bacteria, as well as some fungal infections like ringworm.
Pumpkin. 100% pure canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) is extremely effective for occasional bouts of diarrhea (it can also help with constipation). A couple of teaspoons twice a day with food can work wonders in remedying diarrhea, it can also be beneficial when transitioning your pup to a new food. It’s always a good idea to keep a couple of cans on hand. And frankly, dogs love it, I often just add some to my dog’s regular diet, it has soluble fiber plus Vitamin A.
Gas-X (simethicone). Bloat or gastric dilation is the second leading killer of dogs behind cancer. Bloat can come on quickly and can be deadly. The best course is to try and prevent bloat from happening – don’t exercise your dog after eating, feed smaller meals rather than one large meal and use extra precaution in large deep-chested breeds who are more susceptible to bloat. The most obvious symptom of bloat is, an enlarged or hard abdomen, but you may also observe labored breathing, excessive drooling, vomiting, a weak pulse, and paleness in the nose and mouth; depression or pacing can all be signs of bloat. A dog with bloat needs immediate medical attention, but the correct dose of Gas-X can buy your dog some valuable time. If you suspect bloat contact your vet immediately as this can be a life or death situation and time is critical.
For a dog with regular excessive gas (we all have on of those at home), you may want to consider probiotics, enzymes or a product like Vet’s Best Gas Buster that contains enzymes and digestive food supplements to help support a healthy gut and digestion.
Saline nasal sprays. NON-MEDICATED only. Saline sprays can be used on dogs and cats as well as kittens and puppies to help alleviate dry noses or nasal congestion. Any generic or name-brand will work and can be found out drugstores and supermarkets.
Tick remover tool. Just like humans, dogs can contract Lyme disease. The quicker a tick can be removed the less chance Lyme disease has to take hold. A tick removal tool helps remove the whole tick, including the mouth, which can sometimes get left behind when attempting to remove with regular beauty tweezers. If you live in tick country this is a great tool to have on hand.
Calming Supplements. Do you have a dog that freaks out during fireworks or thunderstorms or hates trips to the vet? You may want to look into a food/herb based supplement containing some combination of Valerian, Skullcap, Hops, or L-Theanine. These supplements don’t work like drugs, but they can provide some subtle relief for anxious dogs. Check out Vetri Science’s ‘Composure’ or Nutri-Vet’s ‘Pet Ease.’
Lavender Oil. Look for 100% PURE therapeutic-grade essential oil ONLY. Some trusted companies include: Aura Cacia, Young Living, NOW Foods, doTERRA and Plant Therapy. Lavender oil has many properties which make it a valuable addition to your medicine chest. Add a few drops on your dog's bed to help with any stress or anxiety, you can also apply topically but essential oils are strong and should be properly diluted in a ‘carrier’ oil or 100% pure aloe vera. A 2006 study published in the AVMA journals found that dogs who were exposed to lavender oil while traveling experienced less restlessness and vocalization than the control group that wasn’t. **Please use caution when using ANY essential oil around cats.**
These are just a couple of ideas for things to have on hand in the event of a minor accident. However, we caution against using any home remedy in place of the advice of a veterinarian. Always talk to your vet and always read the label first!