This past January, I did the unthinkable: I adopted a puppy. Like many dog lovers, I toyed with the idea for years. “They’re a lot of work,” my mom warned. “It’s like having a kid,” my dad advised. “I can handle it, I foster dogs, I dog-sit, I grew up with dogs!”, I thought.
Well, PSA from a reformed know-it-all: Dogs are actually a ton of work. And if it is, in fact, anything like having a human spawn, I’m screwed. Every single day, I’m terrified that I’m going to do something wrong and accidentally kill, injure, or otherwise maim my tiny furry sidekick, Redford.
Scared like a new mom (ish), during our first doctor’s visit, I asked our amazing veterinarian if there's anything I should keep on hand for emergencies. The household items she came back with surprised me—but now, I make sure I keep these five things on hand all the time. Just in case.
When I walk Redford, he does a cute (read: disgusting, scary) thing I call “secret snack,” which is when he gulps down foreign objects off city sidewalks before I even have time to register what’s happening. Luckily, we haven’t had any serious incidents during secret snack, but since dogs are naturally mischievous scavengers, and it’s important to keep peroxide on hand in case your dog gets into something particularly dangerous.
Hydrogen peroxide helps in extreme cases where you may need to induce vomiting “to get the offending substance out of the dog before it can cause too much damage,” said Dr. Jennifer Coates for PetMD. Never induce vomiting before checking with a veterinarian first! It could make things worse. If your vet is not immediately available, call the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680), open 24/7.
If you cut your dog’s nails at home, cornstarch is a must. Why? If you trim a too far down the nail, you’ll be stuck with a injured pup and a lot of blood: dog’s nails contain a quick, which is a vein that runs into the nail. If you nick the quick, it will bleed pretty heavily. While a bleeding nail might not threaten your dog's life, it's certainly no fun for you or your pup. Luckily, cornstarch can quell the bleeding.
According to the ASPCA, when faced with a bleeding nail, you should “apply a little bit of pressure as you press the powder into the wound to make sure it sticks. If bleeding continues for more than a few minutes, please alert your veterinarian.”
If your pup gets a bad scrape or is otherwise injured, nonstick bandage wraps are essential to stop bleeding or protect a wound until you can get to your vet. “Gauze can control bleeding, act as a temporary brace for suspected fractures, and can even be a makeshift muzzle in a pinch,” according to DogTime. Make sure you get gauze in a roll, not in pad form: you can also use an old t-shirt if you run out of gauze.
Rescue alert sticker
In case of emergency, a well-placed sticker near your front door will alert rescue workers that there is a furry family member inside. “Make sure it is visible to rescue workers,” the ASPCA advises, “and that it includes the types and number of pets in your home as well as the name and number of your veterinarian. If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write ‘EVACUATED’ across the sticker.”
Baby Redford was a rescue from Mississippi and came with a myriad of gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea so severe that we wound up in the doggie ER. Our vet advised that we temporarily switch him to a bland diet of chicken and rice to calm his belly and act as a “binder, which can normalize stool consistency,” according to the American Kennel Club
Your dog will probably be dehydrated after a bout of diarrhea, so “boil high-quality rice in a lot of water, remove the grains, and offer the dog the creamy white soup that’s left," says AKC. "A splash of broth or a bit baby food will make it more palatable.” We continued with this diet until Redford became a bit more regular, but always consult your veterinarian before altering your dog's diet.