April is National Pet First-Aid Awareness Month, and although it is a topic pet parents should have on their minds year-round, this is a great time to make sure you learn animal life-saving skills. You can’t keep your four-legged best friend in a plastic bubble – without notice, illness and injury happen, so you must be PAWpared to help even before you can get veterinary assistance.
Preventable accidents are the leading cause of death among our pets, and according to the American Veterinary Association (AVMA) 9 out of 10 dogs and cats can expect to have an emergency during their lifetime. The good news is that 25% more animals can be saved if humans perform first aid BEFORE getting to their Vet (American Animal Hospital Association AAHA statistic). What this means is that the most competent Veterinarian cannot bring your pet back to life, but by knowing Pet First-Aid & CPR, you can keep your dog or cat alive until you reach professional medical help.
By knowing Pet First Aid, you can:
• Lower your pet’s body temperature if he suffers from Heat Stroke and prevent brain damage or death.
• Stop bleeding and prevent infection by properly bandaging a wound. Knowing where the critical arterial pressure points are on your pooch can truly be life-saving!
• Prevent your pet from losing consciousness by alleviating choking.
• Expel poison from your pet’s system by properly inducing vomiting
• Be the pump your pet’s heart can’t be until you can get him to professional medical help.
Pet First-Aid is by no means a replacement for veterinary care, but reacting at the moment injury occurs and then getting to professional medical help can make a difference. You and your Veterinarian must work together as a team for the well-being of your pet.
Even before you get into a Pet First-Aid & CPCR Class you should:
1. Know where your nearest Animal ER is & Keep up with annual Veterinary Visits. Drive there before you need to, so that you know where to enter, what services are offered and how they accept payment. Don’t miss annual veterinary exams where professional eyes, hands, ears, stethoscope, blood test and urinalysis can diagnose problems at their earliest stages.
2. Do a weekly Head-to-Tail Check-up of your pet and notice changing habits. Really get to know your pet, his body and his habits so that you can more quickly determine when something is not quite right. Feel for lumps and bumps, parasites and burrs, anything that should not be on him. Notice what your dog or cat looks like when he sits and stands. How often do you have to fill his water bowl and how often he needs to answer nature’s call? Changes may warrant a veterinary check-up.
3. Get Down on all Fours. Look at your house and yard from your pet’s perspective. Anything on the floor is fair game and an animal’s amazing sense of smell can find hidden temptations behind cabinet doors. Cleaners and fertilizers not absorbed through paw pads will be ingested when your dog or cat grooms himself, so keep items out of paws reach and use pet friendly chemicals.
4. Read your pet’s food label. The first 3-5 items listed on the ingredient label are the bulk of your pet’s diet. Make sure the first one is a high quality protein — the name of the animal in the food (ie: chicken, lamb, salmon, or venison). Limit or avoid wheat, corn and soy which results in allergic reactions in many pets. Can’t pronounce it? Your pet probably doesn’t need it. Feeding the right food (all dogs and cats won’t do well on the same brand) just may prevent illness. Educate yourself for your pet’s sake as food okay for humans may not be so for canines or felines.
5. Spend quality time together. That’s why we have pets – to make them part of the family, so when you walk the dog, don’t talk on your cell phone or text. Tune in to kitty rather than mindlessly petting her. Be in the now and keep your eyes open to your pet’s environment to avoid disasters.
Pets are an important part of many families, and April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month is the perfect time to ensure you have the skills to take care of your furry family member.
Pet First Aid Tips
Do you know what to do during a pet emergency? Here are some common emergency tips:
• To determine if your cat or dog is dehydrated, pull up on the skin between the shoulder blades. It should spring right back; if it stays tented this is a sign of dehydration.
• Signs of pet poisoning include bleeding externally or internally, dilated pupils, drooling or foaming at the mouth, seizures or other abnormal mental state or behavior.
• If your pet has a seizure, make sure it is in a safe place, but do not restrain the animal. Keep your hands away from its mouth as your pet may not know who you are during a seizure and could bite you.
• Signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion include collapse; body temperature of 104 degrees F or above; bloody diarrhea or vomiting; wobbliness; excessive panting or difficulty breathing; increase heart rate; mucous membranes very red; and increased salivation.
• Pets bitten by other animals need vet attention to prevent the wound (even if minor) from becoming infected and to check for internal wounds. Never break up a dogfight yourself because you could be bitten.
• If your pet is bleeding, apply direct pressure using gauze over the bleeding site. If blood soaks through, apply more gauze (do not removed soaked gauze) until you can reach a veterinary hospital.
Pet First Aid App
More lifesaving information is available on the Red Cross Pet First Aid App that helps dog and cat owners to provide emergency care until veterinary assistance is available. Owners have access to step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid emergencies. Check out the Top 5 Features of the
Red Cross Pet First Aid App.
The Pet First Aid App can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps.
Pet owners may also take a Red Cross Pet First Aid course so they can practice the skills and receive feedback. People can go to redcross.org/takeaclass for information and to register.