Essential Items in Hunting Dog's First Aid Kit
Dogs are a man's best friend, and hunting dogs are resourceful creatures that serve us well in hunts and hikes.
Therefore, we must take every precaution to prevent injuries and effectively treat all injuries. Thus, a hunting dog first aid kit should be readily available.
What should I have in a hunting dog's first aid kit?
An effective hunting dog first aid kit should contain all the necessary equipment to provide any basic first aid before the dog is sent away to receive further treatment.
Short Answer: To determine what constitutes an efficient first aid kit, let us take a look at the following;
- Essential medicines for a dog first aid kit
- Tools in the hunting dogs' first aid kit
- Best single-use items in dogs' first aid kit
- The method to sterilize the reusable items found in a dog's first aid kit.
Due to the hazardous nature of the work conducted by hunting dogs, the chances of injury compared to domestic house dogs are exceptionally high.
While most injuries might be superficial, the infection risk remains high. A minor injury can transform into a potentially life-threatening one if left untreated.
These are some of the most common injuries endured by hunting dogs;
- Cuts/ Incision wounds
- Puncture wounds
- Snake Bites
- Broken Bones
Cuts/ Incision wounds
- These injuries are common in hunting dogs.
- They are caused by the dog coming into contact with sharp objects, usually running through forested areas.
- The cuts are usually linear, making it easy to treat with a simple stitch or staple.
- It is caused by sharp pointed objects such as nails, animal teeth, tacks, and thorns.
- Punctures are much deeper than cuts and lacerations, and bleeding might not be excessive.
- Dogs are most likely to get lacerations when trying to manoeuvre across barbed wire fences.
- Lacerations are irregular and jagged and are often deeper than cuts.
- Lacerations would have a high risk of infection, mainly if they occurred through a large surface area.
- Snakes can be found almost anywhere, and curious hunting dogs are constantly at risk from snake bites.
- The location of the snake bite, the dog's weight, the amount of time that has passed since the incident, and the amount of venom injected can determine the likelihood of survival.
- The likelihood of survival is more significant if a dog is bitten on the limbs than the neck.
- Fractures are not as common as cuts, lacerations, and punctures.
- Dogs can experience broken bones if caught in a hunting trap designed for other animals.
- Check for signs of breathing difficulty, changes in posture, and extreme weakness when assessing the injury.
Essential medicines in a dog's first aid kit
The medicine in dog first aid kits is instrumental in treating symptoms, conditioning the dog for further treatment and cleaning wounds.
Here are some of the medications that can be found in dog first aid kits,
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Antibiotic Spray/ Ointments
- Epsom Salts
- Baking Soda
- Electrolytes for Dogs/ Hydration supplements
- The substance is an irritant to the dogs' intestinal system.
- It works within 10-15 minutes and can induce the dog to remove almost 50% of ingested content in the dog's stomach.
- A 3% solution is sufficient to make a dog throw up.
- Vomiting can last up to 45 minutes.
- It is instrumental when a dog has ingested a poisonous substance and has trouble expelling the harmful substance from the system.
- Considered to be safe when administered by a veterinarian
- Hydrogen Peroxide should not be administered if the dog is already vomiting and showcasing symptoms such as breathing difficulties, severe lethargy, seizures or hyperactivity.
Antibiotic Spray/ Ointments
- Antibiotic sprays kill bacteria, clean wounds, and prevent infections.
Milk of Magnesia (MoM)
- MoM acts as a laxative
- MoM can be used to treat constipation, acid reflux symptoms, irregular bowel movements, flatulence, itching and bleeding around the anus in dogs.
- Although it is usually safe for consumption, contact a veterinarian before introducing MoM to the dog, as it can sometimes alleviate uncomfortable symptoms and not address the root cause of the problem. (Sometimes symptoms can overlap, and MoM may not address the ailment)
- Despite its namesake, it is not a salt but a naturally occurring compound of sulphates and magnesium.
- Epsom salts can treat dogs suffering from allergies, relieve skin discomforts, treat muscle pains and treat open wounds.
- A dog should not be allowed to drink water mixed with Epsom salts as it would disrupt the animal's digestive system.
- Baking soda is a natural cleaner and deodorizer
- It is an excellent alternative for dog owners who wish to avoid cleaning products that contain potentially harmful substances.
- Concerning hunting dogs, combining baking soda with water and applying it on the dog's coat can help neutralize pungent smells and acidic insect bites.
- Baking Soda is harmful to dogs if ingested in large quantities as it disrupts the digestive tract.
- After a hunting expedition, a dog may experience squinting, & twitching eyelids, swollen eyes that cannot be opened, eye discharges, inflammation around the eye, and bleeding.
- Eyewashes are sterile solutions used to keep the eyes clean and prevent the regular risk of infection.
- Eyewash should be applied to hunting dogs regularly and after each expedition.
Electrolytes/ Hydration supplements
- Hydration supplements replace the electrolytes lost by hunting dogs throughout a grueling day of hunting by panting and sweating.
- The supplements encourage higher water intake and restore the electrolyte balance so that they recover for the next day.
- A hunting dog fed a diet that contains all the relevant nutrients would not readily require hydration supplements. However, it is always good to keep some handy for emergencies.
Tools in the hunting dog's first aid kit
The tools found in a dog first aid kit ultimately facilitate the administering of potentially life-saving first aid.
Some of the tools that would be found in a hunting dog's first aid kit include;
- Bulb Syringe
- Protective Cone/ Elizabethan collar (E-collar)
- Hot Water Bottle
- Hemostat clamp
- Extra leash/ collar
- Flea Comb/ Fine-teeth Comb
- Tick Key
- Pet First Aid Manual
- Magnifying Glasses
- Travel Bowls
Keeping your hunting dog clean is a top priority. It helps the dog stay healthy and reduces the risk of infections. However, it is undeniable that hiking and hunting throughout the wilderness are messy activities and chances are that some woodland critters attach themselves to your faithful companion.
Tweezers, Flashlights and Magnifying Glasses are often used in conjunction to remove insects such as ticks or lice and remove sharp objects and splinters that may have lodged themselves in the dog in the wilderness. The Flea comb and tick key also perform cleaning duties.
When injured, dogs tend to lick their wounds. Unfortunately, this hinders the healing process and can sometimes result in further infections. This can be prevented by fitting the dog with an E-collar or protective muzzle until such time as preliminary first aid has been carried out. (These collars are colloquially known as the “collars of shame”)
Top five single-use items in a dog's first aid kit
Aside from the items and medicines mentioned above, a hunting dog first kit will also contain several single-use perishable items that are just as important.
Here are the top-five single-use items that must be present in any hunting dog first aid kit.
- Gauze Sponges: Used to clean wounds/ put pressure on small bleeding areas.
- Bandages: Can be used to support splints, cover wounds, and prevent further bleeding. (Non-stick bandages and adhesive tapes can be found in first aid kits)
- Towels: Can be used to cool down the dog or keep them warm. Towels can also be used to clean more giant messes that are associated with trekking through the wilderness.
- Syringes: can be used to measure medications accurately. Furthermore, they can be used as eyedroppers, give oral medication, or flush wounds. On the other hand, bulb syringes are helpful in clearing nasal blockages.
- Surgical Gloves: When treating injuries, cleaning the wound and preventing contamination is a top priority. Therefore, when administering first aid to your hunting dog, always make sure to wear surgical gloves. They protect not only your canine friend but you as well.
It must be noted that hunting dog first aid kits are subjective and highly customizable. The type of hunting dog, the hunting location and several other considerations can influence what goes into the first aid kit.
Cotton balls, Ear plugs, and medicine pill boxes are other items seen in first aid kits.
How to sterilize the reusable instruments in the dog's first aid kit
Sterilizing reusable instruments is a must-do after every use as it kills the harmful bacteria that would be prevalent in the apparatus.
The first aid kit's instruments can be sterilized by cleaning the appliances with alcohol and washing the tools in boiling water.
If possible, cover the instruments with a protective covering to prevent dust contamination and store the kit safely.
What types of dogs are considered "hunting dogs"?
Having a dog by your side is highly beneficial if you enjoy a spot of hunting. However, not all dogs can be considered "hunting dogs."
Here are some of the best-known hunting dogs (some species are also notable as domesticated house dogs);
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
- Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- Mountain Cur
- German Shorthaired Pointer
- Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
- American Foxhound
A hunting dog can be a helpful friend in the wilderness. However, there are times when our loyal companions get injured. If such a situation arises, it is essential to have the right tools to ultimately contribute to a speedy recovery and save your dog's life.
So read up, be prepared, and happy hunting!