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Vehicle Essentials for Exploring the Wild with Your Family Dog

It's always best to be equipped and prepared when taking your dog along when you explore the wild.

By Kristy Fike

Photos by Kristy Fike

When many outdoor enthusiasts head out with their families to go hiking, running, boating, camping, and even scouting, it means bringing their family dog along too. While we enjoy the company that our dogs bring, it is not uncommon to get put into a situation away from home where our dog’s supplies become essential in a hurry. That is why keeping a few dog essentials in your vehicle to prepare for unforeseen situations is ideal.

Complete Dog First Aid Kit

Some dog owners keep a first aid kit containing the bare medical essentials in their hiking packs, camping bags, dog training bags, and even in a storage compartment on their boat. This is a phenomenal idea if an unforeseen situation arises and your dog cannot afford to wait until you trek back to your vehicle to dig out your first aid kit.

There are various dog first aid kits out on the market, but many owners assemble one themselves. If you decide to assemble one yourself, here is a list of items you should consider adding to your kit.

  • Hydrogen Peroxide (for antiseptic purposes or to induce your dog to vomit)
  • Eye Rinse
  • Wound Gel or Spray
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Aspirin
  • Antihistamine
  • Extra Daily Medications
  • Tweezers
  • Forceps
  • Scissors
  • Disposable Skin Stapler and Staple Remover Tool
  • Surgical Glue
  • Thermometer and Thermometer Covers
  • Styptic Powder
  • Alcohol Prep Pads
  • Q-tips
  • Gauze
  • Cotton Pads
  • Medical Tape
  • Self Adhering Bandages
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Magnifying Glass or Readers
  • Headlamp and Extra Batteries
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Dog First Aid Book or Guide
  • Primary Vet Contacts
  • Emergency Vet Contacts Near Your Destination

Whether you buy a first aid kit or assemble your own, consider adding in necessary items to tailor the kit for your dog’s purposes. For example, those who go hiking in an area that many porcupines call home should consider adding a quill removal jig to their first aid kit.

Owners should understand how to administer medications in their first aid kit prior to using them. You would not want to overdose your dog or give your dog one medication when another medication may treat their symptoms faster. If you have any doubts about whether you can properly administer medication to your dog, consult your veterinarian. Owners should also consider asking their veterinarian what items they think are crucial for a dog first aid kit, as they can provide beneficial information.

Collars, Leashes, and Nameplates or Tags

Keeping extra collars, leashes, and nameplates or tags with contact information in your vehicle is a must for any dog owner but especially for those who travel often doing various outdoor activities. Many people think that there is a very slim chance of their dog’s collar or leash breaking while away from home and think that carrying extras is unnecessary. Why take that chance and potentially be in trouble later when out with your dog? Collars that you stow in your vehicle should have nameplates riveted on them. However, it never hurts to keep a few tags with your contact information in your vehicle too.

Snacks and Water

The terrain we ask our dogs to go through when we are hiking or camping with our dogs can be hard on our dog’s body especially if they are not conditioned to regularly taking part in that type of physical activity. Many owners keep extra water and a snack in their vehicle for their dog when away from home. It is also a good idea to keep these things in your pack or bag just in case you come across another person’s dog that needs help.

Next time you are at a vet appointment, ask your veterinarian how to address your dog’s needs if they become dreary, tired, weak, or if they fall out. This will help you know what type of snack or fluids to keep in your vehicle or pack. Since there are various dog energy bars and supplements out on the market, consult your veterinarian when looking for a dog snack to use for your dog.  Your veterinarian knows your dog’s medical history and lifestyle which means they can help you narrow down the best products for your dog.

Non-Essential but Useful

Sometimes getting our loved ones out the door for our next outdoor adventure can be like herding cats. While getting them out the door, we often forget items that we use with our dogs every time they accompany us away from home. For some that may be a training whistle. For others, it may be a dog backpack so they can carry some of their own things. Therefore, if you have a dog item that you use every time your dog accompanies you during outdoor activities, it may not be a bad idea to keep an extra in your vehicle. While it is always muscle memory to grab these items when herding your family and packing the vehicle, they can easily be forgotten.

Unfortunately, time spent outdoors with our family dogs is not always smiles and wagging tails. Having items like a dog first aid kit, collars, nameplates or tags, leashes, snacks, and water in your vehicle will not only potentially save your dog, but it could save someone else’s too. Be aware that some items may expire if left in extreme temperatures. If you keep nameplates in your vehicle, make sure you have a tool that can help you rivet the nameplate to your dog’s collar. If your dog is constantly on the boat with you, it is not a bad idea to keep similar essential items on the boat too.

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  • November 18, 2021