Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Aid Kits for Camelids

By Kristi Brown, DVM, Reprinted from the LANA News, Fall 2004

I'm sure most of us, hopefully, have a fire extinguisher in our homes, barns, and vehicles, as well as smoke detectors, Band-Aids and antibiotic creams, etc. to protect ourselves and our loved ones in case of an emergency. But how many of you have the same for your four-legged loved ones? Think about emergencies you are likely to face and plan ahead for the things you are likely to encounter when packing your emergency kit.
I have several first aid kits made up and I'd like to share ideas with you to create your own. I have a standard size toolbox (about 8" high and deep and 18" long) in the back of the truck with emergency supplies while we're "on the road." I like to keep the emergency kit in the truck, not the tack box, so that it is available every time the trailer is hooked up, not just when we're headed for a show. I have a friend that uses the small, flip top coolers as an emergency kit — anything small enough to store and carry easily, yet large enough to hold a few essentials will work. Bubble wrap sheets work great to wrap around medicine bottles to prevent breakage and are readily available at most office supply stores, or better yet, reuse the wrap from packages you receive. Ziplock bags work great to protect and organize items in the tack box.
General supplies:
  1. Vetwrap — to wrap wounds or support joints.
  2. Diapers — these work great to place over wounds, they are very absorbent and won't stick to wounds.
  3. 2" PVC pipe — cut lengthwise to use as a splint, cut the pipe as long as will fit in your emergency kit. If you don't have PVC pipe available or can't cut it, the same length of 1" dowel rod will also work — keep 2 pieces of dowel rod in your kit to wrap one on each side of the injured area for support.
  4. Duct Tape — the "miracle bandage" — Duct tape can be used to waterproof a bandage, hold a splint, pull the fiber away from a wound, secure a bandage, and any other creative use you can come up with — this will annoy my husband because he is an HVA contractor and thinks duct tape is only for one specific use for his sheet metal projects, not an all purpose item. He obviously finds no humor in the 101 Things to Do with Duct Tape books, either.
  5. Contact lens saline solution — this can be used to rinse out an inflamed eye or a wound. Buy the cheap generic bottles and discard them after they are opened.
  6. Eye salves — Keep a couple tubes of non-steroidal antibiotic salves in your kit. Again, they are safe for a scratch on the eye or to place on superficial wounds. Do not put cream into deep wounds if you can get to a veterinarian within a couple hours.
  7. Antibiotic injectable — consult with your veterinarian for his/her favorite drug for your use. I keep both Penicillin (good for wounds) and LA200 (good for respiratory infections) in my travel kit.
  8. Banamine — Banamine is good for colic, inflammation, and pain. Consult your veterinarian for the appropriate dosage and to dispense an appropriate volume of drug for your use.
  9. Gastroguard — this product is used to treat ulcers. It is not something to use without your veterinarian's approval, but may be appropriate to use on an animal that is stressed while on the road.
  10. Antihistamine injectable — Antihistamines can be used for insect bites, snakebites, allergic conditions and respiratory conditions.
  11. Injectable steroid — this should be used only for snakebites, shock or severe allergic reactions — consult your veterinarian for an appropriate drug and dosage.
  12. Epinephrine — antidote for drug reactions and insect/snake bites — again, consult your veterinarian.
  13. Vegetable oil — a pint of vegetable oil is useful for constipation or colic on the road — vegetable oil has flavor and can be syringed into the animal's mouth and they will swallow it. Mineral oil has no flavor and is easily aspirated. Again, consult your veterinarian for an appropriate dosage.
  14. Syringes and needles — a variety pack — I keep an extra ziplock for garbage (used needles/syringes). When I empty the used items, I know exactly what I need to restock the kit with.
  15. Hand towels — can use to support an injured leg or to clean a wound.
  16. Bottled water — to give animal to drink or to flush a wound, or rehydrate yourself.
  17. Betadine or Nolvasan surgical scrub — a small shampoo container of either of these fits nicely into a kit and can be used to clean a wound your veterinarian can possibly still suture a wound if cleaned with these products because tissue residue is not a concern.
  18. Birthing Kit extras:
    • Bulb syringe (pardon the graphic, but commonly referred to as snot suckers, to clear the nasal passages on crias)
    • suture material or dental floss to tie off a bleeding navel
    • Oxytocin to help with placenta expulsion or delayed labor, but ONLY on the advise of your veterinarian, and
    • a camera to document the event.
This kit fits easily in a vehicle or on a llama pack for use on the trail. You may prefer a backpack or cooler or other container; anything that is easy to grab and run with in an emergency and anything you can easily take on the trail.

Travel safe and see ya on the road!

Kristy Brown started her own veterinary practice, the Leon Valley Veterinary Service, in 1999. The focus of her practice is on camelid medicine, surgery and advanced reproductive techniques and strategies for problem breeders. She has done speaking on the local, state, and national level for both llama producers and veterinarians.

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