First Aid

NY Vinny……. “What’s in Your Dog’s First Aid Kit?”

I was so excited to be on the road to my first Greyhound event with New York Vinny.  I had no idea what to expect but I knew it was going to be our first real adventure together.  It was indeed an adventure.  Before dinner the first evening, the event Veterinarian, Dr. Davey Harkins, from Kansas, proclaimed “I’ve never seen a dog and owner deserve each other more than you and Vinny do” Now to some that might bring a warm, fuzzy, “aww” feeling, but Dr. Harkins was referring to the fact that both Vinny and I have a propensity for accidents of all descriptions to seek us out.

That morning I managed to break my toe before I even started the trip from Grand Prairie to San Antonio. Later that evening, as we were walking to the River Walk for dinner with friends, their dogs, Dr. Harkins and his wife, Vinny’s accident struck At a little over one, Vinny pranced and bounced with joy everywhere he went. (He still does. Everything is an adventure waiting to be discovered.)  Somehow while crossing the street, he managed to get is foot caught in the lanyard around my neck. (don’t ask).  While Dr. Harkins stopped traffic, I got the lanyard off my neck as quickly as I could so we didn’t go down in a tangle in the middle of the street. One would think that should have been adventure enough.  But, NO!.  Figure the odds of Vinny coming down on the end of the plastic ID holder and it slicing between his toes.

In true country Vet style, after stopping us from being run over, Dr. Harkins sat down on the curb, pulled off his cowboy boot, took off his clean, white sock and bandaged Vinny’s paw. From somewhere, his wife produced the largest safety pin I have ever seen, and “ta da”, the bandage was secured.  It happened so quickly, it was like watching a calf roping event. With Vinny bandaged and pinned, the two of us hobbled back across the street to the hotel to take proper care of his foot.  Luckily I had our “Go Kit” with us. I was able to clean, disinfect and bandage his foot.  I left him in the middle of a king size bed with a friend and limped back to join my group for dinner.

During dinner, the subject of first aid came up and we talked about being as prepared as possible. When we got back to the hotel, Dr. Harkins asked to check on my bandaging job and to see what I carried in my “kit”.  While Dr. Harkins did give me a thumbs up, he kept chuckling at all that was in my “kit” and repeated his earlier comment about us deserving each other.  Before he left, he took a picture of Vinny’s bandaged paw and my bandaged toe resting next to each other on a pillow. 

So ……… “What’s in Your Pet’s First Aid Kit?”

My choice for a First Aid “Go Kit” is an organizing plastic box (picked up at Harbor Freight). I use travel bottles from CVS for Betadine and Hydrogen Peroxide.  For Ibuprofen and Benadryl, I use travel sizes. I keep it all together so when we take off anywhere in the car, I can just pick it up and well, …GO.

It contains:

Gauze pads in various sizes Styptic Powder 

Wound-Kote Aerosol 

Medical scissors Regular Band-Aids  Vetricin
Paper Medical adhesive tape Cotton balls  Hydrogen Peroxide  
Regular Medical adhesive tape  Ibuprofen (me)                              

Towel (car) can be used to dry off, keep warm in case of shock, be used as a make shift sling, or soft cone

Vet wrap (3 rolls minimum)                                  Benadryl cream
Blanket (car) 
Betadine  Benadryl tablets  Nail clippers
Ice pack that is activated by massaging it Pocket knife (just because)


Approximately 92 percent of all pets will experience a severe medical emergency at some point during their life.

Always have the phone numbers for your personal Veterinarian, Emergency Vet Care and the ASPCA Poison Control (888-426-4435) where you can easily access them. Make sure they are where your dog sitter can easily find them along with directions.  If you will be staying in an area for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to also have the information for a local vet handy,   

Preparing for at least some of the most common situations can save a lot of stress and anguish on both you and your pet. If you need a Vet while traveling, a concise typed medical history will help them with important information you may not think of while being stressed. 

External Bleeding:  Speak softly and calmly, use slow reassuring movements.  Muzzling your pet when they are injured can benefit both of you.  If you don’t have a muzzle, a long piece of doubled gauze can work.  Even the most loving and gentle pet can sometimes strike out and bite out of fear and pain. Cover the wound with gauze pads and apply steady pressure with your hand.  DO NOT remove the gauze if becomes soaked with blood.  Just add more gauze and continue to maintain pressure until the bleeding slows and starts to clot. 

Fracture:  This is another time when it may be advisable to muzzle your pet.  Keep them as quiet as possible use a board, or some other firm surface to keep them as immobilized as possible while you transport them to the vet.  You may want to use a splint.  Keep in mind that an improperly positioned splint can do more harm than good. 

Seizure: A seizure can come on unexpectedly and can last 2-3 minutes.  Don’t try to restrain your pet. Instead try to move anything he could hurt himself on out of the way. Once the seizure is over, keep your dog warm and call your veterinarian immediately.

Poisons: Call the veterinarian’s office/Poison Control (888-426-4435).  Remember that poisons not only can come in the form of cleaning products, anti-freeze, etc., but in the form of plants, chocolate and other substances that can seem very yummy to your dog.  If your pet ingests a toxic substance.  DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING WITHOUT CONSULTING YOUR VET OR POISON CONTROL FIRST.  Gather any information you can including remains of what your pet got into, the label, empty container, or even vomit.  Head to the vet immediately.

Taking time to learn basic First Aid techniques will benefit you and your pet.  It will help you stay calm when your pet needs you the most, and allow you to act when time may be of the essence.

Your Dog’s Sense of Smell is Amazing

     Have you every wondered how your dog views the world?  Dogs view the world in black and white.  But when it comes to their noses, they “see” in technicolor. The soft, moist spongy outside of their noses catch the myriad of scents carried on the breeze.  Did you know that your dog smells separately with each nostril?  Shortly after they begin sniffing, they not only are aware of what wonderful things are out there, but where they are located, and the direction they are coming from.   Unlike humans, your dog’s nose has two separate sections, separated by a fold of tissue.  One area is used for breathing while the other is used for smelling. In this separate section for smelling, there are approximately 500 million olfactory receptors as compared to a human’s 5 million. To make extra use of these receptors, your dog inhales through their nose and exhales through slits on the sides. This action creates a swirling effect that draws in more odors and allows smells to intensify.

   All of this wonderful sniffing and smelling ability wouldn’t mean much if there wasn’t a major processing area within the brain.  The Olfactory system dedicated to deciphering smells within a dog’s brain takes up far more space than the olfactory system in the human brain.  While you can smell a small squirt of perfume in an enclosed room, your four-footed companion would have no trouble smelling that same squirt in an enclosed stadium, and even distinguish its’s ingredients.  Everything a dog encounters has its own distinct odor profile.  This profile, tells your dog what it is, where it is and in which direction it is moving.

    Dogs also have the ability to detect smells that can’t even be seen.  The vomeronasal organ, detects hormones that all living creatures naturally release.   This relatively small organ helps dogs detect potential mates, as well as decide if someone or something is safe or poses a threat. It can also detect when a person is sick or pregnant.  Through this amazing organ, dogs can be trained to detect certain diseases such as cancer, as well as deciphers our emotions.  

    As talented as dogs are, their most amazing feat is, that they can traverse time.  The past appears in scents left by passersby, tracks, or even the heat left by a parked car.  Scents attach themselves to people and animals all day every day, everywhere they go.  Trees and fire hydrants are fine examples of aromatic bulletin boards, holding a wealth of information.  They tell a dog who has been by, what they have been eating, where they have been, and even how they have been feeling. 
While you are able to see or hear something in a single moment your dog is able to smell an entire story.

Da Princess Toolip - Recovery From A Stroke

Toolip topJune 1st: I almost lost female greyhound, "da Princess Toolip".  After coming home from a much loved car ride, she walked around the corner to the dog yard, had explosive diarrhea and a few minutes later vomited, staggered and collapsed on the patio unable to get up or stand.

Thankfully, my neighbor helped me get her in the car and I raced off to the emergency vet.  Although they were able to stabilize her, they were unable to determine what was causing the issue.  She was kept overnight, treated for shock, given IV fluids and underwent a myriad of tests.  The afternoon of the second day, I went to the emergency vet and worked on her with massage and stretching for over an hour.  She was still unable to stand and would not eat, although she was holding her head up a bit and was a bit more aware.

The third day we were able to get an appointment with a neurologist and they determined she most likely suffered a stroke.  There was a chance, however, it could be canine meningitis.  The only way to determine definitively what was going on was to put her through a MRI, which meant putting her under anesthesia.  As the treatment for either diagnosis was relatively the same, we opted not to put her under.  Greyhounds can react badly to anesthesia and she was already so terribly weak, we were afraid to take the chance.

We brought her home from the neurologist that afternoon.  She was able to stand if she leaned on something and walk drunkenly a short distance if supported before collapsing.  The rest of the day however, when she tried to stand, she would take a staggering step or two and collapse.  Going outside for bathroom breaks were made with me bearing 90% of her weight in a sling.  She had no interest in eating or drinking at all.Toolip neuro

That evening, I started with light stimulating massage, passive stretching and range of motion.  Over the next week, we followed this routine 4 times a day.  By the end of the week, she was able to stand on her own and walk for short distances albeit with a staggering gait.  As she got stronger, we dropped down to two sessions a day and added two walks.  First we walked to the house next door and back twice a day and slowly we added an extra house when she was able to handle it without tiring too much.  Eventually we were walking 4 houses and back.  Several days were a bit scary and disheartening as we seemed to take one step forward and two steps back.  In hindsight, those were days where maybe she did more than she should have because she felt a bit better.  All through the first two weeks at least, she had no interest in food.  It was almost as if she had forgotten how to eat.  I tried every suggestion anyone gave me and if I was lucky, I could get her to eat a little of it and by the next meal she politely refused it.  She would eat peanut butter fairly regularly, which was wonderful as I had not difficulty getting her to take her medicine.  She also had no interest in drinking in the beginning.  To remedy this I was able to get her vanilla Ensure on a fairly regular basis.  This did double duty as it provided her with the protein she was missing by not eating.

June 22nd: Our massage, passive stretching and range of motion sessions were down to once a day.  We will stay with this schedule indefinitely, as it will help her stay limber, keep her muscles stimulated, help with her coordination and if she should be more active on a particular day, it will soothe/ease sore muscles.

June 26th: Today we added stepping over poles (two small ones with PVC pipe between).  The first few passes were with the PVC lying on the floor.  We progressed to raising the PVC pipe to the first opening on the cone, working to get her to raise her back feet to clear them.  We will be working with the poles for awhile.  The cones/poles stay set up in the hall between the kitchen and living room.  When she goes down the hall, she gets extra practice.  We stay with each level until she is stepping over them without hesitation and not knocking them over with her back foot.July 2nd

July 2nd: We added going in and out of cones to work on shifting her weight.  I placed the cones quite a distance apart to allow her to easily go in and out of them.  This will easily allow her to walk beside me as we weave in and out.  As she continues to improve, the cones will get closer together so she will need to concentrate more and shift her weight quicker.

July 4th: Today was our big outing.  We attended a Greyhound birthday party.  Six Greyhounds and one Berger Picard were at the party.  In the beginning everyone was politely walking around, sniffing and greeting.  Then as so often happens when a group of Greyhounds are together, the race was on.  All of a sudden, Princess Toolip, who had been content wandering and checking out new smells on the far side of the yard, threw up her head and took off like a bat out of ... Well you get the idea.  She caught up to the pack and then forged ahead.  Years of programming and training kicked in, and she had no intention of letting anyone outrun her.  The mother of the birthday dog and I jumped up and started in after them.  It must have been a sight, two women trying to chase down a pack of Greyhounds and cut one of them out of the herd.  We finally caught her and I took her into the house where it was cool.  She drank her fill and promptly plopped down in the middle of the goings on without moving for the rest of the party.  That of course meant that all dogs and humans were stepping over her, but then she is the Princess after all.

July 14th: By now we have gone for several walks, taken trips to Hobby Lobby, Petco, Home Depot and attended the "Grey Greyhound Birthday Party".

Car rides are one of her favorite outings.  When she could barely stand, she got excited if I even moved a leash.  Even though they tired her out, I truly believe the change of pace helped her perk up.  I looked back to when I was recovering from a double mastectomy and I was so sick of "taking it easy" in the house.  I begged to just go to Home Depot and "walk around".  I finally got my way and almost made it to the back of the store.  It took the next 25 minutes to get out of the store and back to the car.  That day, marked a turning point for me and I saw the same thing take place with Toolip when we introduced the short rides and walks.

Should any of you find yourself in a similar situation with your companion, I hope you find hope and encouragement and couple of guidelines to help you through it.

As with everything else on this site, if you have any questions or comments, please contact me.  I look forward to hearing from you.



Toolip Vinni