I am by no means rich, so the thought of spending over $1K at the emergency vet make me cry almost – so I decided to take the natural herbal route first and see if I could treat these wounds myself before I resorted to my usual running to the doggie ER (I swear I keep that place in business). Well this time it worked out great! Everyone is all healed up! So I decided to write this little article on Animal First Aid!
For any kind of animal the thing to remember is that animals injured will behave differently. Some will let you come near – and touch them – if they do – great you are in business. If they do not – then your best bet is to suck it up and go to the vet where your pet can be properly restrained or sedated to be treated. One of my dogs is a maniac minpin and the last time he got into it with a much larger dog, he got bit in the ear. Although I could tell the wound wasn’t bad, he wouldn’t let me touch it – not even to clean it! So I had to take him to vet to have them look it.
First think to do – is make sure the pet is out of harm’s way. Once they are in a safe environment – here are a few simple steps that can help
1) STOP THE BLEEDING! If its a big gash and you can see where the blood is coming from, your best bet it to head to the emergency room (and get your wallet ready!). Most of the time, in these little “friendly” scrapes, I see blood everywhere and there is no way for me to tell where the blood is coming from. There are no gaping wounds and no gashes and blood is everywhere. So – one by one off they go into the tub, and I gently clean them off with clean running water until I see where the bleeding is coming from – then I can tell how bad the wound is. I have at times, rushed to the doggie ER with a sopping wet dog who had a much larger wound that originally appeared.
2) CLEAN THE WOUND! There are so many fancy medicines on the market, but good old fashioned water works best. Once the wound is clean and you have an idea of what is happening, you need to kind of gage the severity of it. Animals have fur which can disguise the wound – so clean it first so you can tell how bad it is before you decide you want to treat it yourself.
Cuts and scrapes – should heal within a few days – use the herbal infusion below 3X a day and keep the wound clean.
Puncture wounds – these are dangerous – as depending on how deep they are, they can get infected and swollen. Deep punctures will need a drain – you will need to see your vet for this. This is especially dangerous for cats as skin wounds for them heal much slower than in dogs. Keep the wound clean!
Open wounds – anything that is under about half an inch should not need stitches unless its combined with a puncture of sorts. You can generally tell by the amount of blood you have and by how your dog reacts. Animals in pain look dazed – if that happens – go to the vet – don’t dally – you know your pet well and you can tell if they are “not themselves”. This means the wound is deep enough that they are in serious pain or that there could even be muscle or neve damage. If they are just limping about, but seem ok otherwise, you have to keep an eye on it. Open wounds can go either way – keeping them clean is an absolute MUST!
3) Apply Medicine! I love infusions for first aid because they are easy to make and the results are astonishing. If you have more than one animal at home, I higly recommend investing in a holistic veterinary herbal which will tell you which herbs are safe for animals and the correct dosages. I have about 8 of them – but the best one by far is the one below:
Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats : Your A-Z Guide to Over 200 Conditions, Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements by Shawn Messonnier (available on Amazon.com and WELL WORTH the cost if you have multiple pets or older pets who may be starting to have health problems and you want to find alternate ways of helping them).
Now – mainly I will use an infusion on the wound to clean it and as a first line of medicine and then alternate it with an application of a healing Salve I made that replaced Neosporin (recipe below). Infusions can also be used as cleaning solutions. I tried to use a poultice on a dog once – it was a disaster – I had poultice on the ceiling by the time it was over – so I highly recommend sticking with infusions!
Can you say lifesavers? These little babies are your best battle in pet first aid – and Human first aid! Because Comfrey is an excellent healing herb on all levels, all of my infusions are generally paired up with Comfrey. But here are some other safe options you can add:
St. Jons Wort – Antibacterial – keeps wounds from geting infected
Yarrow – Stops bleeding
Chamomile – gentle pain reliever and mild antibacterial
Slippery Elm Bark – itcy inflamed skin
Calendula (Marigold) – Disinfects and cleans wounds
Rosemary – increases blood flow (DO NOT use on bleeding wounds – this is good for bruises)
Below is the most recent infusion I used for the my dog fight – mainly I was afraid about infection breaking out so I choose St. John’s Wort:
* 1/2 oz of dried Comfrey Leaf
* 1/2 oz of dried St. John’s Wort
Mortar and Pestle
- Bruise the herbs in your M&P – you ALWAYS want to do that before you create any medicinal herbal combinations to “open up” the herb. Also – you should NEVER use a M&P that has been used to grind non-medicinal herbs (Such as resins etc) as the residue of these herbs (no matter how clean your MP is) will mix with your medicine with possible adverse effects. I have a separate MP I use for medicinal herbalism as opposed to magickal herbalism.
- Once nice and bruised – add the herbs to a mustlin bag or old sock. Boil about 2 cups of water, add the herbal bag to a bowl and create a strong infusion with the boiling water. Normally I let it steep about 30 minutes – you want the solution to be a DARK color – where you cannot see through it – most of the time it will be dark brown. Let it cool.
- I generally add this to a Mason Jar and close it tightly – it will keep in the fridge (do not leave it out of the fridge or it will mold) for about a week. After that, discard it and create a new infusion.
- Add the infusion to a cotton ball and apply it to the wound – I generally do several applications per cleasing. If the wound is really bad, I sprinkle some of the infusion on it and wait about 2-3 minutes for it to be absorbed by the skin – clean off excess. Do what you can to keep your pets from licking right after you clean the wound. It is unreasonable to expect that they won’t lick it at all – but I generally cleanse the wound and follow it with a 10-15 minute energy healing session (which makes them sleepy) or massage or petting – anything to keep them focused on me instead of the wound.
I have been making this salve now for about 2 years (maybe 3?). Orignally I created it for bruising – as I bruise easily – but I noticed lately that it goes far beyond just bruising. This takes a while to make – but it keeps for up to THREE YEARS – so its well worth the effort.
Things you will need:
Rosemary Essential Oil
Lavender Essential Oil
Liquid Vitamin E (or you can buy the liquid caps at the health food store and squeeze em – if you don’t mind the mess)
Aloe Vera Gel
1 oz dried Yarrow
1 oz dried Comfrey
Several Layers of cheesecloth
4 Clean Mason Jars
3-7 storage jars (depending on size – I use 7-8 2oz jars)
Oven safe glass bowl or Double boiler
Step 1: Create your infused Oils
Bruise your herbs in your MP and add add them each to a clean mason jar. Comfrey on one Jar and yarrow in the other. Add Jojoba oil to the jars until it covers the herbs and doubles the volume of herbs. So if you jar is half-filled with the herb, you want to fill it with the oil. If your jar is only 1/4 filled with the herbs then you want to 1/2 fill it with oil.
Add water to your slow cooker and put the 2 Mason jars in there. Set it for low (or keep warm if your slow cooker has that setting) and toss in the thermometer. Loosely put the lids over the jars just to keep debris from falling in it – but don’t seal it – it needs to be able to evaporate. Put it somewhere it won’t be disturbed – this will need to cook for 7 days at a temperature between 120 and 150 degrees. I generally put the slow cooker lid over it to keep the water evaporation down to a mininum – you will need to replace the water in the slow cooker once it goes down.
After a week, you will need to strain the oil over the cheesecloth. This is always messy. I generally strain it from of the mason jars to another clean mason jar and put a bown under it to keep it from spilling around too much. Make sure you strain each oil as best as possible. Now it needs to decant.
Once strained, seal the new mason jars and put them overnight in a dark place. The next night (generally 24 hours), you will pour each oil into a clean Mason jar again careful to leave all the “gook” that has settled at the bottom of the jar out of you oil. I generally do this for 2 days. So decant it twice. At this point, you have 100% pure infused oils that have a shelf life of about 2-3 months. They can be used alone or used to prepare salves as I am going to describe below.
Step 2: Create the Salve
Ok now we are ready to create the salve. Temperature is VERY important – so everything you add to your Salve mixture, will need to be at approximately the same temperature.
1) Warm up your infused oils – in a large pan, add water and your infused oils jars so that the jars will heat up without cracking.
2) Melt the beeswax – you will need a double boiler or in my case – I use a regular pan filled with water and a glass oven-safe bowl. If you use my method make sure the bowl opening is larger than the pan – so that it won’t fit completely inside the pan but rest over it comfortably. Add water to the pan (or your double boiler) and bring to a boil. The boiling water in the pan will warm up the bowl – add about 4 oz of beeswax to the bowl – melt slowly.
3) Once the beeswax is melted and your oils are warmed up – SLOWLY add each oil to the beeswax – stirring the whole time. If you add the oil too fast it won’t mix well. Once this is done, add the second oil – the same way.
4) Once the oils are fully blended with the melted beexwax, add about 2-3 oz of coconut oil. Generally coconut oil is solid at room temperature – this is ok to add directly to the mix. Stir the salve mixture until the coconut oil is completely mixed and you have a liquid once again.
5) Add the Aloe Vera Gel – about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of Aloe Vera gel. Stir untl well blended.
6) Add the Olive oil – about 2-3 tablespoons until well blended.
7) Add the vitamin E – about 20 drops until well blended
What you should have left is a greenish liquid that will smell kind of yukky. Once everything is fully blended, remove from heat and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes. Once its cooler, add about 20 drops of Rosemary essential oil and about 20 drops of lavender essential oil. If you add this while the mixture is still too hot it will burn up the oils. This should remove most of the strong smell of the mixture.
8) Pour and save – gently pour this mixture into your clean storage jars. Seal tightly. Let each jar cool overnight. Voila your salve is done! This salve will last for about 3 years – the beeswax is a natural preservative. Now this is assuming you keep the jar sealed and out of sunlight. If you toss the jar about in direct sun and keep it open, it will cut down on the shelf life of the product.
Here are some of the things that I have used this salve for in the past:
* healing cuts and bruises – just rub it on the bruise or cut – it works wonders
* IV bruises – those of you that have been in the hospital know that those IV’s are nasty and they leave large bruises and hematomas – this salve works great for that.
* Open wounds – I used it on my poor dog who got bit on the top of her head and had a gaping wound. The beeswax acts as a natural barrier and keeps the wound clean. So clean, apply the salve, and clean again and apply again.
* Rashes and muscle pain – this has worked well for muscle pain – especially after a workout or when you twist an ankle or something. I have also used it on skin allergies with great success.
I make this salve once a year and its a very popular in my website – my customers generally buy it every year. Between infusions, a healing salve and good old fashioned water – you have everything you need for your pet’s (and yours as well) first aid!
Now with all that said – I keep a simple first aid kit with the following:
* Healing Salves
* Cotton swabs
* Cotton squares
* Muslin bags
* Healing stones – I love Citrine for healing – because I generally see the injury as a block in energy and cirtrine helps to remove that.
* Mortar and Pestle
* Comfrey & Yarrow dried herb mix – for bleeding cuts and normal first aid – these make great poultices for humans
* Comfrey & St. Johns wort herb mix – for wounds that may become infected
* Comfrey & Dried Calendula (Marigold) – for cleansing of all kinds
* Peppermint essential oil – for upset stomach – one of my dogs has a big problem with a sensitive stomach and 1 drop of peppermint essential oil on her muzzle generally settles her stomach.
* Clean bottles or mason jars (I use 2oz lotion type bottles) to hold your infusions.
* Clean towel – for clean up after poultices
This kit will help you with almost any type of first aid – its great to keep around both for kids, curious humans and animals. Enjoy!