No pet first aid kit? No problem. Unleash Your Inner Mutt-Gyver® to help your pet.
Chances are, you do not lug around a pet first aid kit when you take your dog for a walk in the neighborhood.
But what if your dog severely cut his paw on broken glass or got stung by a bee?
No pet first aid kit? No problem. You can often render aid to an injured dog with what you are wearing and what’s within reach by employing what I term, being a Mutt-Gyver®.
As a master certified pet first aid/CPR instructor, I travel the country conducting veterinarian-approved customized classes for pet professionals and pet parents. I’ve always identified the “must-have” items to be inside a pet first aid kit, but the reality is that sometimes a pet gets hurt when a first aid kit is not available and the nearest veterinary clinic is miles away.
This is when you need to tap into your inner “Mutt-Gyver” and unleash creative on-the-spot first aid. Mutt-Gyver is my pet-themed homage to MacGyver, the action-adventure television show of the late 1980s and 1990s, which is now in a reboot version on CBS. The show’s hero, Angus MacGyver, relies on duct tape, shoelaces, his trusty Swiss army knife, plus other common household items to escape from and foil bad guys during each episode.
When your dog gets injured they could try to bite you because they are in pain. Odds are, you are not carrying a pet store muzzle to curtail their ability to bite. Here are some Mutt-Gyver options: You can quickly fashion a makeshift muzzle using the strings on your hooded sweatshirt, your sneaker laces, or even unused plastic dog poop bags (depending on the size of the muzzle.) A 6-foot nylon leash can also be used to keep that lower jaw from opening while still allowing your injured dog to breathe.
The key is to form a noose and make the first tie on the bridge of your dog’s nose. Next, tie under the chin, then tie on the back of the neck below the ears. Finish by threading one end under the first tie on the bridge of the nose looped back to the top of the head where you tie it in a bow (never a knot.)
For dogs with short muzzles (like bulldogs, pugs, and boxers), roll a thick bath towel or sweatshirt around their necks and grip the ends of the material snugly behind the dog’s head. This will prevent the dog from being able to open their jaw.
Here is a rundown of some more Mutt-Gyver tips and tricks:
- On hikes, pack a Mylar blanket. It can be used to warm a cold dog, melt snow to collect rainwater, and serve as a sling for a lightweight pet.
- Keep a lightweight, plastic blue IKEA shopping bag in your home and vehicle and pack it on hikes. This bag is durable enough to move a large dog across any surface, including carpeting without causing friction. It can act as a makeshift, inexpensive gurney.
- On hot days, pour bottled water inside a baseball hat or spare plastic poop bag as a water bowl for your dog. Then place their paws one at a time in the cool water to keep them from overheating.
- If your dog gets sunburned, never use ice cubes on the burn site because you risk them developing hypothermia and going into shock. Apply cool water.
- For bee stings, scrape the stinger out using a credit card. Never use tweezers as it can burst the venom sac and spread venom inside your dog.
- Aloe is nature’s wound healer. Gel from an aloe plant can temporarily treat wounds and insect bites, as well as burns and frostbite. Never apply latex (the white sap) from the aloe plant on a dog or cat because it is toxic.
- For a bloody cut paw, squirt the site with water, fold a sock as a wound pad and slide the sock over the leg. Hold it in place using a shoelace or hair tie.
- For leg sprains or breaks, you can immobilize your pet by using emery boards, popsicle sticks, or paint stirrers as splints. Cushion the limb by wrapping it in a newspaper or a magazine and tying it in place using shoelaces or a bandana.
- For jellyfish stings, rinse the site with salt water and use a seashell to safely scrap the tentacles off of your dog so you do not get stung.
- Download a pet first aid app on your cell phone NOW! Arden recommends American Red Cross’ Pet First Aid App.
MUTT-GYVER ITEMS CHECKLIST
Here’s a rundown of everyday items that can be used in a pet first aid situation when a commercial pet first aid kit is not available:
- 6-foot nylon leash
- Bath towel
- Sneaker shoelaces
- Mylar blanket
- Bottled water
- Baseball cap
- Your credit card or driver’s license
- Your bandana
- Your sweatshirt
- Thick magazine and/or newspaper
- Unused plastic doggy bag
- Your cell phone (with a pet first aid app)
Got a Mutt-Gyver tip? Share in the comments below!
Arden Moore is known as The Pet Health and Safety Coach. She has authored more than two dozen dog and cat books plus travels the country with Pet Safety Dog Kona and Pet Safety Cat Casey to conduct veterinarian-approved, hands-on pet first aid/CPR classes and pet behavior talks. She also hosts the award-winning pet podcast, Oh Behave on Pet Life Radio.