Friday, 28 January 2011

Greyhound First Aid Kit

Greyhounds are, there is no point in trying to deny it, more accident prone than most dogs. They have very thin skins, long limbs, no protective layers of fur or fat, and run with an almost complete disregard to their surrounding if chasing pray.

I am not of the persuasion that, for their own good, retired racing greyhounds should never ever be let off the lead. I think greyhounds need to be given the chance to run for their wellbeing and enjoyment. However, this chance should be given responsibly and with an awareness of the inevitable risks. Firstly, greyhounds can and should be recall trained. They are unlikely to become perfect, but you need to know they will come back to you, at least after the chase. More about that elsewhere. Secondly, they should only be let loose in suitable environments. By my own mistakes, I have learned to always think twice before letting my greyhounds run in new places. I still make mistakes, so: Thirdly, you have to remember that no environment, not even your back garden, is entirely risk free, and you should be prepared for accidents to happen.

This is where a well stocked greyhound first aid kit (or a whole drawer in my case) comes into the picture. Here is a list of the things that I have so far found to be the most useful to have at home. I expect I will add to the list continually. (Feel free to comment if you think I have left that vital item of the greyhound first aid kit out!)

Vet Wrap – the cornerstone of doggy bandaging, comes under various brand names (Coflex, Cohesive, Powerflex and others), but is essentially a lightweight, very stretchy, self-adhesive, water-repellent bandage. Keeps dressings in place well, but care must be taken not to bandage too tight, as it is very elastic. The trick is to unwind a section from the roll first, stretching it out and rolling it back loosely before then applying the bandage. Should be used in conjunction with some padding, as it can cause blisters on thin greyhound skin.

Padding or Conforming Bandage – generally a polyester roll. I currently have the brand name Ortho-band. Goes on after the dressing, before the vet wrap. Use as necessary to pad and protect, I also stick smaller pieces between toes to prevent rubbing.

Melolin Dressing – non-adhesive dressing. Actually not entirely non-adhesive, and you may want to use a wound gel if the laceration is big (in which case you probably should be at the vet’s anyway). Melolin is especially good on scrapes. Comes in a range of sizes, and can be cut to suit.

Adhesive bandage like Elastoplast or Tensoplast, and Micropore – to make bandaging stay put on skinny greyhound legs, some kind of adhesive tape is needed. DON’T use human plaster – this is far too sticky and won't come off easily, tearing fur and leaving a nasty residue. Don’t use any adhesive tape on a large area of exposed fur or skin, only over a smallish sliver above and below bandaging enough to keep it in place, as inevitably fur does get stuck. In addition, some dogs have an allergic reaction to the adhesive, so check frequently when first used. I find the thin pink Elastoplast is less sticky than the broader white Tensoplast, but the latter is useful to add outer strength to a bandage, especially if treating a broken toe. Micropore is less sticky but isn’t very durable.

Antisceptic liquid – any kind, I find the spray ones easy to apply.

Sudocream – or any nappy cream, a mildly antisceptic barrier cream helps protect and heal small cuts and nicks, such as shredded stopper pads, but not to be used under dressings.

Cotton wool – obviously, for cleaning and wiping.

Sterile Salt Solution – to wash clean wounds or eyes.

Sharp Scissors

Tweezers - useful for removing splinters, foreign objects in the wrong places and stitches. Remember to sterilise before use. 

Styptic pencil – to stop bleeding, especially from cut nails.

Meloxidyl – Non Steroidal Anti Inflamatory Drug (NSAID), a painkiller similar to Ibuprofen. Only on prescription, but I tend to have some handy. Dosed by weight, comes with an easy dose syringe. Take veterinary advice before using.

Used Drip Bags – make fantastic hard-wearing water-proof booties that fit over big bandages. Cut in half and make holes to thread string through, to secure to foot. Ask your vet for some next time you’re there.

Epsom Salts – for antisceptic, soothing foot baths. Somewhat astringent, so helps draw out splinters and corns. Calms nerve-endings, and dull pains and aches. Can be used to make poultices to same effect.

D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) - comes as a spray, collar or room diffuser. It mimics the scent given off by a lactating bitch, which has the effect of calming her pups. I used it during fireworks season as Eddie was afraid and it does work well. The effect is not extreme and not sedative, but it does calm the dog. I had the spray form, which is not very long-lasting and I would only really recommend for travelling, for example spraying the car or cage if the dog is anxious. Collars and diffusers last longer and have the benefit of not being confined to one place - I sprayed Eddie's bed, but of course he was to anxious to lie down in bed, so I had to spray a bandana and tie it around his neck. Hence I think the collar is probably the best alternative, and a useful thing to have around in case your dog becomes agitated for some reason, for example after an anaesthetic.

Cone collar or Muzzle - one I am adding after a comment reminded me - my doggies are, luckily, not disposed to licking, and will stop once told off a few times. They absolutely hate the cone collars, and although they aren't overjoyed at wearing them, tolerate muzzles a lot better. Most ex-racing greyhounds will wear muzzles without too much trouble.

And last but not least a special mention to:

Thera-Paw Booties – the best dog-shoes out there for greyhounds! As greys have long, thin paws with proud, bony knuckles, most dog footwear does not fit them. Thera-Paws have been designed for greyhounds (but will fit other breeds too), specifically to treat corns, but are useful as protective boots for other small injuries or simply on rough ground. The soles are tough rubber on the outside and foam-padded inside. The boot is made of durable, breathable neoprene and fastens via two Velcro straps, and reach quite high up the ankle/wrist. Worked a miracle when Cassie had a corn. I removed the core of the corn (with help of Epsom Salt foot baths and poultices), and then she wore these every time she was out without fail for a month, and the corn did not grow back. 

A final word of warning - only administer treatments yourself if you know what you are doing and feel comfortable handling your dogs. It is always best to seek veterinary advice if you have any apprehensions whatsoever. 


Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

That is quite the first aid kit!

E.A. said...

It is the frustrated medical student in me (I went for humanities...)!