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Simply keeping a basket brimming with toys and a cupboard full of treats is not up to snuff when it comes to providing adequate . Just like humans, dogs have accidents, experience injuries, and get sick. And just like humans keep a medicine cabinet of essentials, there are items every pet parent should keep stocked in the case of emergency. Here are the basics.
Pet parents may have been told that all they have to do to determine whether or not their dog has a fever is to check their snout; if it’s warm and dry, they’re running a temperature, and if it’s cold and wet, they’re healthy. However, this advice is somewhat misguided.
On any given day, a dog’s body temperature can range from 99.5–102.5 degrees. Compared to humans’ base temperature of around 98.6 degrees, any number in this range feels warm to the touch. Moreover, a few degrees higher may not feel any different.
The only way to accurately evaluate a dog’s internal temperature is by using a thermometer. Although many kinds of human thermometers do the trick, there are also products out there specific to animals. The important thing is that the thermometer is labeled and easy to use.
For pet parents who opt to do their own grooming, having styptic powder handy is an absolute must.
Trimming a dog’s nails is a tricky task, and slip-ups happen. For example, when nails get cut too short, excessive bleeding can occur. To stop the bleeding, pet parents can apply an antiseptic clotting agent like styptic powder, commonly known by the name brand Kwik Stop. In addition to powders, there are also styptic gels, liquids, and pens on the market.
Although rabies tags belong on dogs themselves and not in the medicine cabinet, it’s crucial that pet parents keep and update them.
The rabies vaccine provides immunity to dogs who have been bitten by or exposed to an infected animal. A rabies tag, which is required by law in most US states, documents that a dog has received the vaccine and when it was administered. The National Association of Public Health Veterinarians recommends that pet parents choose the shape that correlates to the year their dog received the dose. The recent tags are:
2020: Red heart shape
2019: Green bell shape
2018: Orange oval shape
2017: Blue rosette shape
2016: Red heart shape
Most dogs must wear the "cone of shame" at some point in their lives. They are used as a physical barrier to prevent dogs from scratching, licking, or chewing specific spots, typically at a wound or incision site. For pet parents that want to stay ahead of the curve, it’s wise to pick up a cone that extends 3 – 4 inches past the tip of their dog’s nose.
Some alternatives to cones include:
Surgical recovery suits
When it comes to dog meds, every pet parent should keep a bottle of hydrocortisone cream in stock. Just like with humans, hydrocortisone cream helps relieve skin inflammation and itching that may be caused by infections, insect bites, or allergies. In order to be effective on dogs, this cream must be applied directly to the skin, not on the coat. However, it should never get applied to open wounds. Alternate products that work in a similar way include itch relief spray and medicated mousse.
Keeping a pre-prepared first aid kit at home and in the car is the best way to prepare for accidents. Some items to include are:
A clean towel
Gauze or bandages
A wound care solution
A water bottle
Should an emergency occur, pet parents shouldn’t have to scramble to find or look up the numbers for their vet, emergency veterinary hospital, or poison control. Therefore, these numbers should be written down and placed near other dog health care items and also saved in the phone.
Pet insurance protects pet parents against any unexpected veterinary bills that may come their way. Although many opt to pay out-of-pocket for their dog care, most Americans would struggle if faced with a $1,500 emergency vet bill. Fortunately, there are numerous different pet insurance companies and plans to choose from.
Once they choose a plan, pet parents should ensure the proper documentation is kept in a safe place.
The dog health advice most vets will offer pet parents is to keep their medicine cabinet stocked with the above essentials. It’s always better to have too many resources than too few. For other dog health care products, toys, and treats, consider getting a dog healthcare bundle or dog subscription box. And for additional pet advice, an online vet is a quick and easy resource.