Canine First Aid

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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Living where and how we do, life would be so much easier if when we first had  moved here we had a crystal ball.  We anticipated that if we needed medical treatment it would be a long trip to to the doctor or emergency room  so we put together a first aid kit that would cover most minor accidents.  If it were a serious situation where seconds count we accepted the fact that we would likely die before we could get help.  We accept that risk in exchange of living where and how we do. 

(The shepherds are playing hide-and-seek with miniature marshmallows!)

But what about our dogs?  They didn’t have a vote in this process.   They are family members whom we love and want to do the best for.  Take away that expensive high quality food they eat, the supplements they get to stay healthy, there is always the possibility they can get injured.  What then?  Their vet is 90 miles away and even on the best of traffic and weather days that takes us an hour and a half one way.  Our first traffic light is 42 miles away; how many can say that?  Even with an almost straight shot to the vet it is still a long time-consuming drive.  We do not have an abundance of vet’s but we have chosen one that is willing to meet us at the office 24/7, in case of any emergency.  When you live in a rural area, most vet’s are more accustom to working on livestock than dogs.  They do work with dogs but not to the extent that a metropolitan area would provide.  Ours has a large family pet practice. 

We therefore keep a first aid supply on hand for the dogs and have educated ourselves to treat the occasional injury or illness.  The vet we have chosen is also available to discuss injury/illness with us on the phone.  About a month ago we got him up at 4:30 A.M. but he did not seem to mind.  Since I do volunteer work for a German Shepherd Rescue in another  part of the state, I go on line to the rescue network with any question we may have and usually end up with more answers than I can hope to read in the course of the day.  Those who are involved in rescue are a totally special breed of people.  They love dogs, are dedicated to their welfare,  have kind and caring hearts and usually have years of experience with nursing, nurturing and treating dogs, plus they are willing to share any knowledge they have with you. 

Beyond the abundant valuable  sources of information, we keep bandages (tube socks work well for leg injuries) antibacterial spray, cream and salve, as well as wound spray, antihistamine, eye drops, vet wrap tape, bleed stop powder for toe nails, along with other supplies that are for the most part interchangeable with our human kit.  We keep non-toxic spray to keep them from getting stung or bit by a multitude of flies and other biting insects on our frequent hikes. 

These are just some of the items we keep on hand for wounds or bites.  When we first changed our lifestyle we did not think of a first aid kit for our dogs but it didn’t take long to recognize our error.  So if you plan to live as remotely as we do, it is wise to plan ahead  for your pets too. Another great feature is that our vet will mail Rx to us when needed so that we don’t have to make that long trip.  

We had a surprise two days ago.  A gentleman who was working in Santa Fe, N.M. and had read our posts and personal blog wanted to see and meet us first hand.  He drove up, a 2 ½ hour drive, stopped by to visit and see our homestead first hand.  As we did a tour he recognized many of the features I had written about.  If you lived in the city and a total stranger came to your door you would probably call the police.  Here life is different and we welcome others and inquiries.

What a pleasant surprise and entertaining visit.  He recognized our dogs from the photo’s previously posted and was surprised they did not bark when he arrived.  We have them trained to alert us to visitors but not to bark.  Actually a quiet German Shepherd that does not bark and just stands and looks at you is far more scary than one in a frenzy.  That seems to unnerve most people.   It is much easier to welcome visitors that way too.  We are happy that Johnny stopped by and hope to see him again in the future when he is in our neck of the woods.  Thank you Mother for facilitating this unexpected visit by inviting me to be part of your blog program.