Summer Travels with Pets // Life-Saving First Aid Preparedness

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It is a day I will never forget.

My beautiful dog, who suffered from environmental allergies and multiple chemical sensitivities, could not breathe.  We were miles away from civilization, hours away from help.  I was his only hope for survival.  Frantic but determined to save his life, I quickly pulled out the reference on canine CPR — stashed strategically in a pocket of my travel survival kit — then began compressing his chest and performing CPR. 

With every breath and measured push of my hands, the life-giving oxygen flowed through his heart and circulatory system.  Keeping him alive moment by moment until the asthma attack began to subside, I realized my preparation for this very day made the difference between life and death.  Once my dog began breathing on his own, we drove the many miles from the woods toward the city, and his veterinarian.  She confirmed that he had experienced an asthma attack or severe allergic reaction, and that my quick actions to keep his oxygenated blood flowing likely saved his life.  We all breathed in relief that day.

Because a trip to the doctor is not on our list of things we like to do, especially when traveling or vacationing, preparedness is essential. Preparedness is prevention.  It gives us confidence, a modicum of assurance that we will be safe, whether on a car ride to a nearby store or a weekend away in the mountains. Don’t wait until you are faced with an emergency like mine to be prepared. Start today by assembling the things you may need in times of a crisis or a natural disaster. 

Today, I care for my Principal’s Pets. I, along with many colleagues, friends, and family, spend a lot of time outdoors. A traveler’s kit is of great importance to all of us, even on a day when it isn’t needed. It is beyond your ordinary supply of first aid, loaded with everything but the kitchen sink:

  • Get Certified in pet CPR. “I Am.” 
  • Pet first Aid Certification 
  • Learn how to use a Clicker “For the purpose of control when walking off leash”
  • When hiking Bear Country, or at the dog par “Wear a lanyard with a Clicker, Whistle. And bear bells. 
  • Extra leashes and collars, useful for a tourniquet or in case I find a stray in need of rescuing
  • Space blankets and towels to provide warmth in extreme weather and for bandaging
  • Vetrap flexible bandages, sterile gauze pads, and strips of fabric or gauze for the protection of open wounds or making a temporary splint
  • An herbal soap to clean and disinfect cuts, and salve and essential oils for wounds as well as to repel insects
  • Eyewash
  • A rectal thermometer “Don’t laugh”
  • Bee sting and snake bite remedies
  • Food for dogs and for people, water, bottles, and bowls. 
  • Satellite phone, cell phone and radios for use if separated. 
  • A flashlight and beacons that make the lack of visibility at sundown less intimidating, and when walking in an area that leaves us vulnerable in the dark.
  • Current geographic maps, a GPS, local facility addresses and phone numbers, photos, medical records, and ID tags that may help in reuniting my dogs and I, if we should get lost or separated – which has happened more than once. Always know where the nearest emergency clinic is no matter where you are. 
  • And of course, that trusty first aid reference book.


In addition to updating my traveler’s first aid kit and backpacks, I also keep my cabinets at home updated with current medications, and our contact information updated with current numbers for veterinarians, pet caregivers, friends, and family members.

Part of being prepared is being well-trained.  Training plus practice equals quick responses and a cool head during a crisis. From basic first aid to survival training in the event of a disaster, I recommend clear and concise instruction from professional educators in this field. Classes may be available from your local sports authorities, hunting and tracking trainers, and those specific for Human & Pet First Aid and CPR. These types of classes are available in most communities throughout the year.

What you can learn and take with you wherever you go, will benefit you and those around you – maybe even saving a life.

For classes on first aid and disaster training, visit your local red cross at

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