Two dogs running together through grass
Two dogs running together through grass

First aid in the field 

Vet Rebecca Bailey shares her essentials for a good first aid kit and some quick tips on need-to-know first aid care.

It’s rare for a working gundog to get through its life without a few cuts and minor injuries. Occasionally something more serious happens, but you can be prepared for most eventualities with a good first aid kit on hand. 

On every shoot day or excursion, there should be at least one good first aid kit available.

The First Aid Kit Checklist

Having the right kit will enable you to manage a variety of common issues and ailments effectively, and give you time to seek further veterinary help if required. 

  1. Blanket/tea towel 
  2. Water 
  3. Water bowl 
  4. Tea towel 
  5. Sticking tapes: duct tape/electrical tape/masking tape
  6. Elastoplast gloves: latex/garage forecourt type 
  7. Hand cleanser 
  8. Antiseptic solution (Dilute Savlon, Hibiscrub or similar)
  9. Vaseline 
  10. Cotton wool 
  11. Dressing materials: non-adhesive first layer, padding & a self-adhesive top layer 
  12. Plastic bag and elastic band 
  13. Scissors 
  14. Tweezers 
  15. Wire cutters/pliers 
  16. Torch 
  17. Biscuits/treats 
  18. Muzzle
  19. Container to accommodate the whole kit (a large ice cream or cheese biscuits tub for example).

First Aid in the Field

Profuse bleeding

If faced with a large volume of blood that suggests a severed vessel, you need to quickly apply pressure to stem the bleeding. 

Roll up your tea towel to make a thick pad and tape it firmly over the affected area.

Call the vet. This much blood will warrant fast veterinary action so secure the pad and pressure as best you can and seek assistance.

More minor wound care

For less severe wounds and tears you can take a more measured approach.

Find the wound

It may be hidden under mud or fur. Use your bottle of water to flush the wound and wash your hands. Or use hand sanitiser or put gloves on before taking a closer look.  

Clean the wound

Use the mild antiseptic solution to clean the wound. For minor skin abrasions, once clean, a layer of Vaseline will help protect and slow bleeding.

Dress the wound

If the wound is in a place where a bandage can be applied, then cover it. Use a non-adherent gauze or lint for a good first layer then aim to have a layer to pad and a layer to hold it all in place.

Don’t forget… 

Not the most obvious items but highly recommended for your kit are a source of food and a muzzle.


Working dogs are expending a huge amount of energy and can go a bit wobbly or collapse if they over-exert. 

Carry some dog treats with you just to help keep energy levels up throughout the day. 

However, DON’T give a dog anything if the dog is injured and you suspect surgery is likely to be needed, as this may delay the anaesthetic. 


Even the most placid of dogs may bite when frightened or in severe pain. 

Never be afraid to use a muzzle either a manufactured one or a piece of bandage tied around the nose. It is more important that you can act quickly and safely to see to your dog if first aid is required. 

If in doubt

If you’re in any doubt about your dog’s well-being or feel out of your depth in caring for a wounded or distressed dog, call your vet. 

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