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Chances are, if you have a dog, at some point, you will have a veterinary emergency  In case of said emergency, there is no substitute for a visit to a veterinarian for expert help.  Even if you can’t get to a vet right away,you should call a veterinarian before attempting to help your pet.  Sometimes, however, you are in a situation where you cannot contact your veterinarian – such as camping in the wilderness, in which case, a little emergency know-how might save your pet’s life.  If you find yourself in one of these situations there are interventions you can do yourself, with the caveat that a followup visit with your veterinarian is still a must.  Here is a list of seven emergency items every dog owner should have on hand.


Cornstarch and Cotton Swabs

One of the most common injuries I see at my clinic are broken or torn toenails.  Toe nails are very vascular and bleed a large amount when injured. You can use cornstarch to stop the bleeding.  Simply shake some cornstarch out into a saucer and dip your dog’s nail into it – then use a cotton swab to pack the cornstarch around the wound.  The cornstarch acts to stop bleeding right away.


Baking Soda

Baking soda is another handy item if your dog, or you for that matter, ever has a bee sting. Baking soda neutralizes the venom of the stinger. Mix some baking soda with water to make a paste and apply on top of the stinger. Let it dry and then use a credit cards to gently scrape out the stinger.


Hydrogen Peroxide

Another common emergency at my clinic is rodenticide and chocolate poisoning. If you know that your pet has just ingested a poison, you can use Hydrogen peroxide, the 3 percent solution, to induce vomiting.  The dosage is one teaspoon for every 5 pounds, up to 5 tablespoons.  I recommend writing down how much your pet needs and posting it on the fridge so in the event your pet eats something she shouldn’t, you don’t waste time trying to figure out the dosage, and it is helpful to have a small syringe handy so you can squirt it into your pet’s mouth.


Saline Solution

Contact lens saline solution is a great item to have on hand because you can use it to clean out wounds. The solution is basically the same as sterile saline, which is what is used at a veterinary hospital to flush out wounds.


Betadine and Antibiotic Ointment

Betadine solution and triple antibiotic ointment. Betadine is an antiseptic that is used to clean and prevent infection in wounds, and if your pet ever has a puncture wound, just use triple antibiotic ointment to plug up the puncture until you get to the vet.  It will prevent the spread of infection from bacteria.



Antihistamines are very useful if your pet has skin allergies or an allergic reaction. I always recommend having benadryl, generic is diphenhydramine, around, especially after vaccines in case of an allergic reaction.  Also, dramamine, generic dimenhydrinate, prevents motion sickness in dogs just like in humans.  I would recommend asking your veterinarian for a dosage on both of these medications.

Pepto bismol can be used in dogs but never in cats – it is toxic. If your dog got into the garbage and has diarrhea or an upset stomach, you can give your dog 1 tsp per 20 pounds every 4-6 hours for 24 hours to see if it clears up the problem.  Again, talk to your veterinarian before treating and if the problem persists, schedule an appointment for the next day.

There are a couple of drugs that you should not give your dog or cat.  Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are extremely toxic to pets and should never be given to your dog or cat – these drugs can cause kidney and liver failure.  Aspirin can cause stomach ulcers and is a potent blood thinner, and I recommend never giving it to your dog unless you have talked with your veterinarian first.

Remember – none of these home remedies are a substitute for your veterinarian’s expert care, but they may fill the gap between the time of first noticing an illness or injury and when you can get in to see your veterinarian.