Having a dog first aid kit is overlooked by many Dane owners – until it’s needed

A Dog firs aid kit? Like all responsible people owned by a Great Dane, there isn’t really anything we wouldn’t do for ours. In fact, we thought there wasn’t anything we hadn’t done! Until he ran into a stand of brambles to explore something and got wacked in the face and chest by a porcupine. Happy ending thankfully (except for the $700.00 vet bill), however, the whole experience made us realize how unprepared we were for medical emergencies. Well, we’re prepared now. Not only have we read up on basic first aid for canines; we also built our own Great Dane first aid kit.

There are many canine first aid kits on the market. Some are very basic, while others offer 40 or 50 different ingredients – in our opinion way more than you really need. We didn’t go that route simply because when we were at the vets (watching her earn that $700.00) we started discussing the need for a Great Dane medical kit. And on her recommendations, we essentially put one together right then and there. We’ve modified it a bit since then as we’ve learned more about dog first aid, but most of the stuff we think you might need you can get either off the shelf or through your local vet.

Functions of a Great Dane Medical Kit

There are two functions your Dane first aid kit needs to fulfill. The first, is treatment of minor issues that are not serious and probably don’t require the attention of a vet. Something for diarrhea, a cleaning solution and an antibiotic ointment to make sure minor cuts and abrasions don’t get infected are good examples.

The second function your dog first aid supplies need to support is stabilization in the event of an animal emergency. This will hopefully buy you some time while you get your Dane to proper medical attention. Unfortunately, given the size of our beasts, when they hurt themselves, sometimes they can really hurt themselves.

Remember – the Great Dane is a bit delicate. And it is much more challenging to immobilize an injury on an animal that weighs as much as you do. This isn’t just picking up a normal size dog and putting it on your lap while your spouse drives to your local animal emergency center. A distressed and injured Dane can be quite the handful and the onset of shock can be frightening.

Contents of a Dog FirstAid kit

But first, what should be included in the standard dog first aid package?

Here is what we have in our first aid kit:

Dog first aid guide (This should be the first thing you acquire. Your vet or local book store will certainly carry these. Remember to read it before you need it!)

Blanket (This may be necessary to retain heat if your Dane is going into shock. It is also a very handy tool to move your Dane if he can’t move himself. Also makes a good body sling for hoisting into a vehicle)

Tweezers (Handy for splinters, cleaning debris out of wounds etc)

Scissors (Cut bandages and wraps)

Antiseptic wipes (to clean tools)

Iodine Wash (to clean wounds, cuts)

Polysporin (or other over the counter antibiotic ointment to prevent onset of infection in cuts, abrasions etc)

Povidine Iodine ointment (infection prevention for burns)

Cotton gauze pads (to cover wounds)

Cotton gauze wraps 3” (to secure gauze pads)

Vetwrap (a flexible bandage that adheres to itself. Used to stabilize injuries)

Instant Ice compress (to try and control swelling for bone injuries)

Peptobismal (or similar product for upset stomach)

Imodium (diarrhea)

And that’s it. Many kits contain more and of course it certainly doesn’t hurt – but we believe the above contents are enough. A word about aspirin. Many kits contain aspirin as a pain reliever. A child dosage is recommended and never give tylonal or an anti inflammatory such as Ibuprofen. Both these medications are poisonous for your Dane.

Bloat Kit

As all responsible Dane slaves know, bloat is an ongoing concern for this breed and if anything can be classed as a medical emergency, this stomach twisting is it. If your Dane starts to bloat, you may only have about 30 minutes to get emergency medical attention. After that, the condition may become fatal. Of course, there is no option other than emergency medical attention – surgery is often required to untwist the stomach. And if there is a 24/7 animal emergency hospital near you (i.e. within 15 minutes) a bloat kit is not necessary.

But if you don’t have access to this kind of support, a bloat first aid kit should be considered. It should only be used in extremis, but if the alternative is watching your Dane die, it isn’t a hard decision to make.

The best person to see about building a bloat kit is, of course, your vet. It should include:


2” needle (used for gas release if gastric tubing cannot be inserted into stomach)

Rolled gastric tubing cut and measured to each individual dog. One end should be tapered with two holes cut in sides just above the end

Nylon Stocking (to make a muzzle)

2” roll of medical tape (inserted into mouth to stabilize for the muzzle. The tubing is inserted through the hole in the tape roll and then down the throat. This ensures your dane can’t bite down on the tube and therefore prevent insertion. Another option is a block of wood with a hole drilled through it.)

Water soluble lubricant


For more advice on how the bloat kit is used, see our stomach twisting article. But in any event, you really should discuss this with your vet.

Be Prepared

Dog first aid isn’t a subject that many casual dog owners have spent much time trying to learn. But it’s important. Not only will prompt attention often mean avoiding big vet bills by preventing a condition from developing into something more serious, but in cases of more severe trauma a bit of knowledge and the right material will help stabilize your Dane until you get him proper attention.

We won’t soon forget seeing Bismarck sitting in the field with over a hundred quills in his face, mouth and chest, looking at us for help and not really understanding what had happened to him. Turns out, we did the right thing – got him to a vet because some of the quills were buried in his chest wall and he was going into some shock. It would have been less drama for us if we had already acquired our dog first aid book and could have looked for a quick reference. Having a blanket handy would have made getting him into the truck a bit easier as well. Hopefully we never have to use our kit. But it’s there if we ever need it. Yours should be too.

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