“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” ~Benjamin Franklin
Your dog (or cat) has just been injured. Do you know what to do until you can get your beloved pet the vet or animal hospital? What happens if it is after hours, and the nearest emergency hospital is miles away? When an accident or injury happens, time is of the essence. With April being Pet First Aid Month, this is a good time to enroll in a Pet First Aid and CPR Course and update your pet’s First Aid Kit.
Why Get Trained in Pet CPR and First Aid?
So often we have pet emergencies after-hours or on the weekend. And what if the animal ER hospital is not nearby? “In an emergency, every second counts! The idea for being trained in First Aid and CPR is to empower both pet parents and anyone in charge of caring for pets to be able to know what to do in case of an emergency, and not feel helpless,” states Tom Rinelli, owner and instructor at Paws N Claws 911 First Aid and Care Training. Based in New York, his program has trained students across the country as well as in Canada, Germany, and New Zealand. Rinelli, a seasoned 25+ year veteran of pre-hospital emergency medical services and a dog owner, has applied his specialized background to help Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts earn a Pet Care Merit Badge, as well as teaching lifesaving skills and techniques of Pet CPR and First Aid to pet parents, caregivers, pet care professionals, rescue volunteers, and first responders, including members of the United States Coast Guard.
Who Should be Trained in Pet CPR and First Aid?
“Pretty much anyone who either has a pet or is charged with the care them of, be it a groomer, pet sitter, a walker… really anyone who comes across a pet in their daily life should know how to do this,” states Rinelli.
1. Is Your Dog Breathing and Is There a Heartbeat?
“If you do not see your pet’s chest moving and cannot find a heartbeat, begin CPR with chest compressions,” states the American Red Cross.
2. Give Your Dog Chest Compressions
How? Instructs the American Red Cross, “Place your hands on your pet as follows: For cats, small dogs, and deep chested dogs, place the heel of one of your hands directly over the pet’s heart and place your other hand directly over the first hand. For deep chested dogs, place the heel of one hand over the widest part of the chest and place your other hand directly over the first hand. For barrel chested dogs, place the dog on its back, place one hand over the widest part of the sternum, and place your other hand directly over the first hand. Then, lock your elbows and make sure your shoulders are directly above your hands.” When in position, “push hard and push fast at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute, compressing 1/3 to 1/2 the width of your pet’s chest. Make sure the chest comes back fully (recoils) before compressing again.” The American Red Cross Training Services recommends performing “30 chest compressions.”
3. Next Steps Give Rescue Breaths
Says the American Red Cross, “Gently close the pet’s mouth and extend the pet’s neck to open the airway. Cover your pet’s nose with your mouth and exhale until you see the pet’s chest rise. Give a second rescue breath.”
4. Continue with CPR
“Continue giving CPR with a cycle of 30 chest compressions and 2 rescue breaths until your dog or cat begins breathing again on its own,” instructs the American Red Cross.
5. Recheck for Breathing and a Heartbeat
Their recommendation is to, “Briefly check for breathing and a heartbeat every two minutes.”
6. Go Get Help
The American Red Cross states to “Continue CPR until you reach a veterinary hospital.”
Did You Know There is a FREE American Red Cross Pet First Aid App? Visit the App Store of Google Play to Download. You can also Text "GETPET" to 90999.
Do You Have a First Aid Kit for Your Dog?
It’s good to have two First Aid Kits, one for home and one for the car. Items to pack in the kit include: stethoscope, antiseptic, antibiotic cream, antihistamine (unopened), gauze, bandages, scissors, tick remover tool, ear and eye ointments, instant ice packs, First Aid instructions, pet thermometer, alcohol pads, latex gloves, portable water & food bowl, pet's medical & vaccine record, photo ID.
If your dog has Epilepsy,* also be sure to include rescue anti-seizure medications, natural stress relief product, appropriately sized instant ice packs, honey or corn syrup for post-seizure, fresh unopened container of protein dog food/treat, and your dog’s journal with important info on the dates, times, length of seizures, etc. Check with your veterinarian for a complete list of items to be included in your particular pet’s First Aid Kit. *For more information on caring for a dog with Canine Epilepsy, visit the FiveSibes FREE #LiveGibStrong Online K-9 Epilepsy Resource Library.
Transporting an Ill or Injured Dog
It is always good to have a plan in place on how you would transport your dog to a veterinarian or ER animal hospital. Maybe your dog was having a seizure or has been injured. If your dog is little, it can easily be carried. For larger dogs, an extending car ramp or bed sheet can be used as a makeshift stretcher for your dog.
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Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author. Her canine books include EPIC Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books: What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle (ArcticHouse Publishing). Her internationally top blogsite is FiveSibes™ , based on her five Siberian Huskies, and includes an online encyclopedia for the Siberian Husky breed.
Her work has also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul & Rosie the Riveter book series, Woman’s World Magazine, AmericanPet Magazine, American Dog Media, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy has been awarded the prestigious Maxwell Medallion by the Dog Writers of America Association for “Excellence” for her writing, photography, and fiction. Her book EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy received the Independent Press Award for “Excellence” in the Reference Book category and the NYC Big Book Award for “Excellence” in the Animal/Pet book category. She was named “Best Author” by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four of her books were named “Best in Print” by AmericanPet Magazine.
An official International Purple Day® for (K9) Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy partnered with the nonprofit Purple Day® Every Day presented by The Anita Kaufmann Foundation for her #Paws4Purple initiative, and she created the #FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K9 Epilepsy Online Resource Library—all inspired by her epileptic Siberian Husky, Gibson, in order to help other Epi-dog families find accurate information to help their Epi-dogs.