My wife and I decided we wanted to do some camping over the 4th of July weekend. We thought we were prepared. We had shelter, food, water, survival kits, and extensive first-aid kits. Most combat Veterans carry a pretty comprehensive first-aid kit, and I am no different. I’m confident as long as the initial injury doesn’t kill you outright, I will be able to get you to help alive. When preparation, training, mindset come together, the results can be dramatic.

I say we thought we were prepared because in all my planning I had excluded the newest member of our family, Loki. You may have met Loki during the hunting dog series, if not, check him out here. The camping trip was going well, we had settled down for the night, and were getting dinner ready. All of a sudden, Loki let out a loud yelp and shot out of some bushes. He was inconsolable, and was acting like he had been hit with some buckshot. Initially I thought that he may have been bitten by a snake, so I went over to the bushes to investigate. There were no less than a hundred bees streaming out of a ground hive.

I had no idea how many stings he took. After I finally got ahold of him, I tried to find out where he had been hit. He wouldn’t let me open his mouth, or look in his ears without yelping, so I assumed he had taken more than one sting on the face. Here I was, able to literally save someone shot in the chest with a gun, but completely unprepared to deal with a common canine injury.

A neighbor from a nearby campsite had heard Loki yelping and came over to investigate. She immediately offered us some children’s Benadryl, while explaining that she’d had a similar experience with her pet. As a precaution she always carried Benadryl when she was camping with her pets. I drove until my cell phone was able to connect and gave my dad a call (he has been a veterinarian longer than I have been alive). He gave me the appropriate dosages that I needed, and I treated Loki. Loki ended up being fine and it was thanks to the preparation, and planning of a complete stranger.

Are You Prepared to Save Your Dog?
Loki decided to settle in as his Benadryl kicked in.

I didn’t want to be in the position of relying on luck, or the kindness of a stranger, so when we got home I spoke with my dad about a canine first-aid kit. Below is the information compiled by my father, and edited by myself. As always, speak with your veterinarian prior to making a specialized kit for your pet. You and your doctor will be better informed as to the health concerns and needs of your pet.

Speaking to my father: I need to know the common injuries I should be prepared for. Also, what kind of first-aid kit should I put together for Loki?

My father the vet: Pet first aid is not a new subject, there are many good references, but what you need are some of my tricks that might be different than what you find elsewhere.  So, here are some things you need to know.  The common emergencies that would happen out in the field are: bee sting, torn nail, cut foot pad, eye injury, sharp stick impalement (remember when you were running around in the woods and impaled your cheek with a stick), ticks, eating something bad, leg injury, and heat stroke.  There are many more, but those are common.

Some injuries can be nothing, like tearing the pad on a dog’s foot.  Trim it off and it will regrow.  However, cut the foot just above the main foot pad and you will find a major artery.  I had some neighbors come to my house the other day when I was in the shower. Thinking it was a minor injury I told them to wait until I finished. Your Mom came back to say they couldn’t wait. I went out dripping wet to find a large dog in a wheel barrow, bleeding out!  They had no idea how to stop bleeding.