How to Create a Safe Medicine Cabinet for Your Dog
Most of us keep a variety of medicines at home for those occasions when we are sick or injured, but did you know there are some important medicines to keep on hand if your dog is not well? Here are some of the commonly used items you should have on hand in your dog’s medicine chest. Be sure to check with your veterinarian before giving any medicines to your dog.
3% Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide should be in every dog’s medicine cabinet. Although most commonly thought of as a way to clean a wound, another important use is to induce vomiting when your dog has ingested toxins, foreign objects, drugs or spoiled food. However, check with your veterinarian first because there are times when it is best not to induce vomiting. Dogs won’t drink peroxide willingly so buy an oral dose syringe or keep a turkey baster on hand to help administer the liquid. Also check the expiration date; expired peroxide is not as effective.
Benadryl® (diphenhydramine) is an antihistamine that is commonly used for itching and allergic reactions. Dogs that have had a bee sting, insect bite or vaccination reaction often need a dose of Benadryl® to calm itchiness, facial swelling or hives. The dose is based on your dog’s weight, so check with your veterinarian; he or she can tell you how much Benadryl® you can give and how often.
Every dog owner knows about vomiting, diarrhea and gas. Sometimes a dose of Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate can solve a mild case of stomach or intestinal upset. However, Pepto-Bismol contains salicylates, the active ingredient in aspirin, so dogs that are aspirin sensitive should be given Kaopectate. Any vomiting or diarrhea that persists for more than 24 hours needs your veterinarian’s attention. Be sure to mention if you have given any Pepto-Bismol to your dog; the tablet form of Pepto-Bismol looks just like a quarter on X-rays.
Triple Antibiotic Ointment
Topical antibacterial ointment is great for superficial wounds, such as cuts and scratches. It works best when the wound is located where the dog can’t lick it since most dogs will lick off any salve you apply. It is not a good treatment for deep wounds, especially if they are dirty or bleeding, or the result of a bite. These need veterinary attention.
Isopropyl alcohol is often a good drying agent for ears. Many dogs that have recurring ear infections can use a solution of alcohol mixed with vinegar to dry up a wet ear. Alcohol should never be used in an ear that is inflamed or infected, or on a wound, as it burns when applied to damaged tissues. It can also be used in cases where your dog is overheated. Heat stroke is a life threatening situation that requires immediate veterinary attention, but alcohol applied to the pad of your dog’s feet can provide some cooling while you are getting your pet to the vet.
Bandages and Tape
It can be challenging to bandage a bleeding wound on your dog. Most often an old sock and electrical tape are cleverly used as bandages when an emergency arises. Keep a pack of clean or sterile gauze and some medical tape handy. Most bleeding wounds require pressure and tape will help keep the gauze in place.
Oral Dose Syringe/Pill Gun/Pill Splitter
Your veterinarian can supply you with a handy little item called a pill gun. It is a long plastic tube with a plunger used to deliver pills to our less cooperative friends. Some dogs just aren’t fooled by that little meatball with the pill in the middle. The pill gun keeps you from having to stick your hand/fingers into your dog’s mouth when medicating him. An oral dose syringe will help you give liquid medications accurately. A pill splitter will help you cut large tablets into equal portions if your pet requires a smaller dose.
Having these medications on hand is only half the job. Calling your pet’s doctor for proper instructions and potential side effects is the other. Never give your pet any medicine prescribed for people unless instructed by your veterinarian.