I love bringing Maddox with me every time I go hiking. He loves to run down the trail and explore right by my side. Having a dog hiking first aid kit is the best way to be prepared in case something happens to your dog while you are out on the trails.
As dog owners, we never want to think about our dogs getting hurt at any time but especially while hiking. Unfortunately for us, it has happened. More than once. My goal is to help it not happen to you and your dog. A first aid kit that is specifically designed for dogs can be purchased or you can put together your own dog hiking first aid kit. You may already have most of these items in your home.
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- 1 Most Common Dog Injuries and How to Treat Them
- 2 How to Make your Own Dog Hiking First Aid Kit
- 3 Ready to Buy Pet First-Aid Kits
- 4 First Aid Book
Most Common Dog Injuries and How to Treat Them
If you are exposed to the sun for a prolonged period while hiking, you may want to consider bringing sunscreen. Short-haired dogs are more prone to getting sunburn.
There are tons of pet sunscreen options. You can also use a reflective vest, just make sure it’s a lightweight or cooling vest so that your pup doesn’t overheat.
If your dog does happen to get sunburnt, Aloe Vera gel can soothe your dog’s skin while it heals. It should heal on its own in a few days.
Heat-related illnesses can be a huge risk in dogs. Your dog may be overheating if they are excessively panting, dragging their feet, or getting bleary-eyed.
If you think your dog is overheating, step off the trail and let them lie down for 10-30 minutes. Give them tons of water and even apply cool water on the belly and legs. Do not submerge them in water, like letting them jump into a stream, because if they cool down too quickly it could cause more issues for them. You can also use a cold pack for a few minutes to cool them off.
If they aren’t feeling better after 30 minutes then it is best to cut the hike short. Carrying them out is the best course of action.
Insect Bites/ Stings
Has your dog been stung by anything before? While on a hike Hooch (My best friend’s dog) decided to stick her nose into a hole in the ground that happens to be filled with yellow jackets.
While trying to help Hooch, Morgan, and her sister Erin ended up being stung along with my dog Maddox. Luckily we always carry Benadryl and were able to give everyone some to help with the swelling.
Signs of insect stings are:
Redness or hives where they were stung
Swelling at the sting site or in the face area (even if they weren’t stung in the face)
If your dog gets stung:
Check for the stinger. If it’s still there use tweezers to remove it.
Give your dog Benadryl. 1 milligram per pound of body weight is the recommended dosage.
Wipe the area with an antiseptic wipe to clean it.
Do some research before you go to learn the different types of snakes you may encounter on your hike. If your dog gets a snake bite then you will be able to recognize if it was venomous or not. If you are safely able to, take a photo of the snake in order to show the vet treating your dog.
Signs of Snake Bites:
Swelling at the site
Small puncture wounds at the bite site
Bleeding (this is not always the case depending on the type of snake)
Pain at the bite site
Most dogs get bit by a snake in the face area.
Snake Bite Treatment:
Benadryl can be administered with the same dose as above, 1 milligram per pound of body weight.
The best thing you can do is get your dog to a vet. Even non-venomous snake bites need to be seen by a vet sooner than later.
Animal Bites/ Scratches
You never know what kind of animals you will encounter on the trails, especially other dogs. If your dog ends up in a fight with another animal be extremely careful if you try breaking it up.
Once everything calms down, check your dog and yourself very carefully for cuts and bites. Dress any open wounds and apply pressure to deep cuts to slow bleeding. Get your pup to the vet as soon as you can.
Ticks are the worst! I highly recommend that your pet is on a flea/tick medicine all year round, especially if you are going hiking. Check with your vet to pick the right one for your dog. Before we head out on the trail we spray the dogs and ourselves with Wondercide. This will keep all kinds of insects away from you and your pet.
Most likely if your dog gets a tick you won’t know unless you happen to see it. Once you are done hiking make sure to search your dog’s fur for any ticks.
If you see a tick try and get it out as soon as possible. Some ticks carry diseases that they can transfer to your dog. We have this awesome tool called a tick tornado. It is the easiest way to get the tick, including its head, out of your dog’s skin. If you don’t have a tick removal tool like the tick tornado you can use tweezers but be super careful and make sure that the head is out.
Poison Ivy/ Poison Oak
Poison Ivy or Oak can cause itching and a rash on your dog just like it does on humans. To ease the skin you can apply hydrocortisone lotion.
If your pet has eaten a poisonous plant or any foreign substance you need to take them to a vet or if you are far into a trail and feel comfortable give them 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. Always call your vet before inducing vomiting so they can guide you. The safe dose is 0.5-1 milliliter (ml) per pound of weight. You can also call the poison control center if you want advice.
We had to induce vomiting this way with Maddox once because we suspected he ate a poisonous mushroom. Luckily after vomiting, he was fine.
Foot Pad or Paw Injuries
Your dog’s paws are normally resistant to injuries but can still hurt them. Maddox has cut his paw pads on shells, rocks, and sharp sticks. (He’s like a toddler and is always hurting himself). You can put hiking boots on them if you will be hiking a rough trail or somewhere with a ton of sharp rocks.
If they do hurt their paws you can put Paw Balm on their foot or Neosporin if you have that and then wrap up their foot to keep it clean.
Even if they get minor cuts or scrapes on the trail you want to be sure to clean them with antiseptic wipes and bandage them so it doesn’t get infected while hiking.
Sprains and Strains
Sprains or Strains can be super painful. If they get a sprain or strain they will most likely limp or won’t put any weight on the affected leg.
Before assuming they have a sprain/strain check their foot and pad to make sure there isn’t anything stuck in their pad.
If it is a strain/sprain then ask your vet if you can give them a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which most everyone carries while hiking. Short-term use of these in dogs is safe. Just consult your vet first as some NSAIDs for humans are not safe for dogs.
If your dog breaks any of their bones you will absolutely know. They will most likely yelp or cry and be limp. If this happens try to make a splint with a stick or something similar to keep their leg immobilized.
Try to carry them out so you don’t risk them making it worse. If you can’t carry them, just keep a close eye on them and try to help them along the way. Always bring an emergency dog harness to make it easier to get them out safely.
Not necessarily an injury but dogs do get sore after long strenuous hikes as well. So dont be suprised if they are a little sore the next day. You can put a warm compress on the if it is really bothering them but make sure it’s not too hot.
How to Make your Own Dog Hiking First Aid Kit
Yes, you can buy a premade first aid kit specifically for dogs. There are tons of options available. A lot of the different supplies you may already have in your house or in your own first aid kit, so why not make your own?
You will need a bag or box to put all the items in, label it Dog First Aid. A lot of the items are similar to a human first aid kit but you want to make sure everything you’re giving your dog is safe. Here is everything you need in your dog hiking first aid kit.
Alcohol Prep Pads
3 % Hydrogen Peroxide (Make sure it isn’t expired, ask the advice of your veterinarian before giving it to your dog)
Tweezers or Needle-nose pliers
Triple Antibiotic Ointments
Benadryl for an allergic reaction
Pet Safe Anti-Inflammatories
Saline Eye Wash Solution
Extra leash – our favorite is a slip lead or slip leash so you can quickly just slip it over your pup’s neck in an emergency
Straws (If your dog’s face is swollen and the airways are constricted, putting a straw up their nose may open the airway)
Muzzle (Sometimes when pets get injured they go into shock and may try biting you even though you are trying to help them. This is a personal preference for everyone)
Emergency Dog’s Harness (while not packed in your kit, make sure you have this available)
Space Blanket – In case you get lost and its cold
Phone Number, Name, and Address of your vet, a local vet, and emergency clinics if you are hiking away from home. I suggest putting these numbers on a card or paper and placing it into one of those clear vinyl pockets to keep it safe from water.
Ready to Buy Pet First-Aid Kits
If you decide you don’t want to build your own dog hiking first aid kit, you can buy one. There are multiple great options for purchasing a kit online. Here are a few of our recommendations.
This kit comes with a waterproof bag to put all the supplies into, a pet manual and includes:
- 2 sterile gauze dressings (3” x 3”)
- 2 sterile non-adherent dressing (2” x 3”)
- 1 conforming gauze bandage (2”)
- 1 irrigation syringe 10cc with 18gauge tip
- 1 saline wound and eyewash
- 1 elastic bandage self-adhering (2”)
- 3 triple antibiotic ointment
- 6 antiseptic wipe
- 2 alcohol swab
- 1 Triangular bandage (can be used as muzzle)
- 1 pet first aid manual
- 1 splinter picker/ tick remover forceps
- 1 hydrogen peroxide 3%, 1 oz
- Medication (check with a vet before administering): 2 Antihistamine (diphenhydramine 25mg)
This kit has everything you need for you and your pet! This kit includes:
- Five- 1 x 3 in. bandages: 2 knuckle; 3 butterfly-closure fabric bandages
- Two- 3 x 3 in sterile gauze dressing
- Two sterile 2 x 3 in. non-adherent dressing
- Safety pin
- 3 triple antibiotic ointment
- 6 antiseptic wipes
- 2 alcohol swabs
- 1 oz. hydrogen peroxide 3% to induce vomiting
- Medications (check with a vet before administering): two 325mg aspirin packets (2 per pack); 1 packet 25mg Diphenhydramine antihistamine
- 1 in. x 10 yds. tape
- 2 in. self-adhering elastic bandage
- 1conforming gauze bandage
- 14 pre-cut and shaped pieces of Moleskin
- 1 pair nitrile gloves
- 1 saline wound/eyewash
- Includes a pet first aid manual and Wilderness & Travel Medicine: A Comprehensive Guide – by Eric A. Weiss, M.D.
- Survive Outdoors Longer (SOL) emergency blanket
- An emergency cold pack
- 10cc irrigation syringe with 18-gauge
- 4 in. EMT Shears
- 5 in. nylon leash
- Splinter Picker/tick remover
- Triangular bandage (Can be used for a muzzle)
First Aid Book
Carrying a small first-aid book can help put you at ease and give your dog the best care in case of an emergency. Here are a few of our suggestions.
You can also do a DIY first-aid kit book if you don’t want to purchase one, but these are budget-friendly options.
As a pet owner, all you want is to keep your furry friend safe. Unfortunately, minor injuries can occur especially while hiking. The good news is that in the event of an injury, you will be prepared with the information and tools to create your own dog first-aid kit. Now you and your dog are ready for all your outdoor adventures!