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Being a Dog Parent: Stocking Your Dog’s First-Aid Closet

Welcome to the second installment of our ongoing series of Calvin & Susie Blogs on “Being a Dog Parent” or “Being a Cat Parent”. In this series we’ll share how we, the Calvin & Susie team, learned how to care for our pets. We’ve made some missteps along the way, and we’re still learning, but as people who make pet care our profession, we want to share with you the good stuff we’ve learned so far. Read the first post, on how the Calvin & Susie Blogger learned to feed her cat, here

This week’s post comes from our owner and founder, Alli. 

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Do you have a dog closet? 

For me, it’s a full-height utility/storage closet in my laundry room. From top to bottom it’s full of dog “stuff”. Having raised several dogs over the last 17 years – five large and one small – I’ve accumulated quite a bit of supplies. Some I have used and purchased over and over, and some I bought, tried once or twice, and in that closet they sit, waiting for that moment when it will one day come in handy again.

I admit there are many items I probably could have done without – some have become favorites, and some were definitely impulse buys for an unspecified emergency that I thought I might have to deal with in some vague future, and some I got just to test them out. Oh, well. Better safe than sorry.

So from one pet parent to another, I thought I would share some of my favorite items from my “dog closet” and hopefully save you from a closet full of clutter that somehow grows and grows. That is, if you don’t already have a dog closet of your own that is bursting at the seams like mine!

Must-Have Items

I sleep better knowing that I have these items and products for emergencies.

Calming products:  I have a tiny little bottle of Rescue Remedy, a little bottle of Buck Mountain Valerian Extract, and a ThunderShirt. I have used them in some combination, and sometimes just one or another depending on the severity of my dogs’ anxiety. Needless to say, during New Year Eve’s fireworks, the whole arsenal is deployed.

Medical Care

  • Hydrogen peroxide – To clean wounds and to induce vomit.  If you have feeding syringes, administration for vomiting is much easier, but if you don’t, teaspoons will do.  For more information and guidelines on helping your dog vomit in an emergency, click here.
  • Buck Mountain Wound Balm for Animals – To help heal wounds.  One evening, I came home from work, and my Tommy had a couple of pretty deep gouges on his nose. He was in the yard all day while I was out, and I suspect he was fighting with the neighbor’s dog through the chain-link fence. (We now have double fencing on that side – it’s amazing how my shy and cowardly dog turns into this ferocious hound behind the security of a fence!) I cleaned the wound by pouring a generous amount of hydrogen peroxide over his snout, and packed it with Wound Balm. I kept it liberally slathered, and within days pink flesh started filling in and he was as good as new. He also lost a fight with a cat and got a bloody nose with a very distinct cat claw lines on his nose. Again, Wound Balm to the rescue.  And because it’s made with ingredients that’s that are OK to ingest, I don’t worry about him licking his nose.
  • Buck Mountain Wound Aid for Animals – To stop the bleeding from cuts and scrapes. It works like styptic powder, but it also has healing properties. Also, it’s bitter so it discourages licking.
  • A thermometer – I used to have a rectal one, but now I also have an ear thermometer and I must say, it is Heaven-sent. One evening, when my reliably-ravenous Tommy didn’t want to eat his dinner, alarm bells went off.  And since I had my very easy-to-use ear thermometer handy, I took his temperature and found that he was running a slight fever. I took readings throughout the night, and finding that his temperature continued to inch up, ended up rushing him to Pearl City VCA at in the wee hours of the morning. The vets managed to get his temperature to stabilize by the following day, and after labs and imaging ruled out anything serious, he was able to come home with antibiotics. We are not sure what it was, but whatever it was, we caught it early. And the vets made me feel like a Super Dog Mom because they said my quick action probably spared him from developing something much more difficult to treat. Boy, did I feel proud of myself!
    So whenever I see my babies acting a little off, I grab my thermometer just to make sure. Tommy was thankful for the ear thermometer, too. Otherwise, he would have been poked in the butt every few hours for a whole week!(Before I switched to using the ear thermometer, I did comparison readings with a traditional rectal thermometer and confirmed that the readings are within 0.1  or 0.2 degrees of each other.)  
  • Sterile bandages – To cover wounds
  • Vet Wrap – To hold bandages in place
  • Saline Solution – To flush out eyes.  When I see excessive discharge in one eye more than the other, I usually suspect some debris, and I flush out the eyes with saline eye solution. You can use over-the-counter artificial tears from the drug store (like Refresh brand) if that’s all you have, but squirting plenty of saline works better to flush.  I do this for a few days and it usually goes away.
  • Tweezers – I cannot tell you how many times over the years I pulled out bee stingers with tweezers. Sadly, now that I am older, I have to look for my glasses first! I have read that you can use a credit card to scrape off the bee stinger but my personal choice is the tweezers. And you cannot get stingers out with a credit card when they’re stung between the toes (As it happened to my Susie, TWICE, many years ago). Plus you can sterilize metal tweezers if they get blood or fluids on them.
  • Cones (as in “Cone of Shame”) – I have two kinds: a Comfy Cone, which is a soft, padded cone that protects everywhere and keeps the dog from biting affected areas; and a BiteNot collar, which looks kind of like the neck brace that a person with whiplash would wear. These cones prevent dogs from reaching most areas of their body, but do not hinder them from drinking or eating while affording full vision.  My Henry wore this cone 24/7 for 10 days after he cut the top of his back foot when he knocked over and shattered a glass vase. This is when having dogs of similar sizes can save you some money.  Tommy and Emma and Henry use a lot of Calvin and Susie’s hand-me-downs like cones, as well as harnesses, Thundershirts, Halloween costumes, leashes, etc.

Nice-to-Have Items

I do have all these items and use them often, but they are not necessities.

  • Cotton balls 
  • Swabs
  • Vetericyn Plus Wound & Skin Care spray – For minor cuts and scrapes, all you need is a quick squirt.
  • Bandage scissors
  • Benadryl – When Tommy was stung by a bee on his face as a puppy (I’m beginning to see a pattern that I hadn’t noticed before…my Tommy is a walking disaster!), his entire snout swelled up and made him look like a Sharpei!  A quick call to the vet’s off-hours number, and I was told to give him Bendryl. The swelling went down within two hours and I was able to leave on a trip. (This pattern I did see a long time ago – emergencies never happen during regular business hours, and always right before I’m supposed to leave on a trip.)
  • Feeding syringes of various measurements

Highly Recommended

Whenever we go to the vet’s office, and we get lab tests (blood tests, radiology reports, etc) I always get a copy. My vet’s office (Dr Patrick Leadbeater at Kahala Pet Hospital) is so used to it, that they always email me the lab results sometimes even before I ask. I have all my dogs’ labs in binders – one per dog. So when we have to go to the ER or see a new vet who is not familiar with my dog, I have his/her medical records with me. This helps the vets, and can save a lot of money running tests that they may have just had. Of course, if your dog or cat is on any medication, that must be the first thing in the binder. I also recommend bringing your pet’s meds with you to the ER, if you can.

Supplements

I’m not even going to tell you what I have since this is supposed to be a short blog, not a novel.  Sufficed to say, I have two golden retrievers who are 12 years old. Naturally, I’m at my FULL-blown vigilant dog-mom mode. I will say that, in addition to their food, they are on Milk Thistle, Hawthorn, a healthy oil (fish, coconut, or cold-pressed flax seed or hemp oil), probiotics, some joint support, immune support, antioxidants, sometimes Turmeric, CoQ10, and some homemade bone broth.  Sometimes, I feel like everything I do is to prevent cancer that may lurk somewhere. That’s the reality of having elderly Golden Retreivers. But I read somewhere, awhile back, that we shouldn’t feed to kill cancer, but to feed the health. It made sense to me, so that’s what I try to do – nurture their immune systems and overall well-being by first giving them the cleanest, most wholesome food I can, and supplementing.

While my seniors are well supplemented, my youngster who is almost two years old, only gets a little splash of healthy oil and some raw marrow bones for good dental health. I try to keep it simple with him. With the great food he is eating, he really doesn’t need anything else.

I hope this helps some pet parents sort through their own version of the dog closet.  Realistically speaking, my dog closet will never be clutter free, and I will always have to dig through stuff; after all, all those items really do spark joy for me – many puppy collars, a few baby teeth I managed find in the water bowl, old tattered leashes, chewed up and mended toys… Each piece of seeming junk holds some memory that I cannot let go. But I do have shelves for medical emergencies that are quite spiffy and organized.

Stay safe and be prepared!

~ Alli

Note: In emergency medical situations concerning your pet, always contact your vet. If you aren’t sure how to proceed or don’t know what to do, get to a vet. The Calvin & Susie Blog offers first-aid advice based on our research and experience, but we do not have veterinary training. Additionally, always check with your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet. The Calvin & Susie Blogger always researches to the best of her ability, but she is not a vet. This blog is not in any way meant to replace veterinary advice or care. When in doubt, always ask a vet.