Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of medications available to human beings and only one for dogs. People can use prescription medications or over-the-counter ones. But, while vets can prescribe medications to your pup, your local pharmacy isn’t likely to carry anything Fido-friendly. Or do they? While products aren’t always marketed for pets, there are still options from your grocery store that can be used to treat your pet before they start displaying vet-worthy symptoms. There are also products you can keep on hand that could make a huge difference in an emergency.
Hydrogen Peroxide & Syringe
For cleaning up cuts, right? Not exactly. Hydrogen peroxide squirted directly down the back of their throat can make a dog throw up. If your dog ever eats something dangerous, hydrogen peroxide can help bring it back up. If you come home to find that your dog chewed up a bottle of aspirin or ate a whole bag of chocolate, you can react immediately if you have hydrogen peroxide stored with a needleless syringe.
Because we don’t have to worry about people eating non-food items, this is one of the most underutilized tools in a pet parent’s arsenal. But we don’t love them because they’re smart, we love dogs because they’re lovable idiots who occasionally eat things that can make them sick.
Cannabidiol (CBD) Tincture
CBD is the perfect substitute for human-grade pain relievers. If you and your dog went for a long hike, you might take an aspirin to help with soreness the next day. Similarly, CBD can be used with your dog to manage stiffness and discomfort. If your dog is having a hard time getting in and out of the car, you can use CBD to help manage the discomfort.
CBD is also a boon for treating situational anxiety, the same way a person might drink tea or use essential oils. CBD can be used on trips or in unfamiliar surroundings to help your dog stay calm and relaxed. Halloween and the Fourth of July are common seasons for CBD usage.
CBD can also be a panacea for your dog’s car sickness. Try a dose of CBD about 15 minutes before getting in the car, so it has plenty of time to take effect before your dog starts to feel nauseous. CBD can also help minimize the pacing and movement that often makes carsickness worse.
Antihistamines work in dogs similar to how they work on humans. They’re great to have on hand in the summertime, especially when pups are outside and sniffing around spiders and wasps. If your dog seems to have an allergic reaction or reacts to some kind of venom or poison, antihistamines at appropriate dosages will immediately start counteracting allergic reactions. If you suspect that your dog is having an allergic reaction, as soon as you’ve applied it, take them to the vet.
If you buy soft gels, you can also puncture the antihistamine capsule with scissors and mix it with item number 6 to create an at-home topical to treat allergies and skin inflammation. Use it to manage any temporary inflammation or redness on your dog’s skin.
A good tube of an antibiotic ointment is perfect for treating the little cuts and scrapes your dog will get in the course of playing and roughhousing. Apply it liberally and try to keep your pup from licking it off, if possible. Sometimes socks or a little latex bandage can provide that barrier of separation. Follow up on those scrapes to make sure they healed up properly.
Vitamin A&D lotion
This stuff is a great carrier lotion for other products (like #2 and #3!) and also works great alone. For skin that needs healing attention, an ointment with Vitamin A&D will do nicely. Use it when your pup burns their paws on hot pavement or when their nose gets chapped from traveling in dry areas.
Probiotics are a great way to respond to any tummy trouble your pup experiences. Dogs have the same risk factors for an underdeveloped microbiome as people: a diet that lacks diversity, antibiotics, and stress. If your pup starts having digestion problems, the core issue might be that their gut needs a little assistance breaking down food.
If there is one doggy over-the-counter pet parents need, it’s an anti-diarrheal for dogs. For now, while that’s not offered, a way to help your dog with loose stool is by adding starch to their diet. Canned pumpkin is easy to keep in the pantry for pet use. Rice is also highly effective at providing some starch and easy to prepare. Use chicken stock instead of water if your pup is particularly picky. Of course, make sure to take your pet to the vet if they experience diarrhea for more than 12 hours or if there are any accompanying symptoms.
BONUS: Pet Go-Bag
Need somewhere to store your fantastic pet first aid kit? Consider making your pet a go-bag. Fill a small bag with enough food, supplies, and any medications your pet might need in an emergency situation to get by for 36 hours. Consider an extra leash, a collapsible pet carrier, and a small blanket. Then put that go-bag in your car or somewhere easily accessible at home. In an emergency situation, you’ll be ready to react.
We love our pets, and we want to make sure we can provide them an almost human level of comfort and security. Having a pet first aid kit prepared can help you provide immediate help to your furry friend in the case of an emergency and help you feel more confident in taking care of your pet when they aren’t feeling well. Ask your vet if there are any other supplies you ought to consider for your pet during their regular checkup.
Want to learn other tricks to help in a pet emergency? Review your doggy Heimlich Maneuver positioning and review pet CPR. We also have another article that explores more about “Should You Try CBD for Your Pet?“