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pet first aid

Pet First Aid Awareness Month

When most of us hear about pet first aid, we think that it’s not something we will ever need to learn yet use. You probably are right in this assumption but in the unlikely chance that something happens, it’s better to be prepared!

About six years ago, I was at a park with Guido. It was hot outside so I outfitted him with a cooling vest and had plenty of water on me. Next to us was a man with his Golden Retriever. He was throwing a ball to him and the Golden, although having fun, was not aware of his body’s limits.

Within a few minutes, the dog collapsed and was breathing heavily and shallowly. The owner did not have any water, so I rushed him over water and checked his gums. They were pale and I knew from my pet first aid training, that he was going into heat stroke. I gently poured cold water over him and placed him in the shade under a tree. After about ten minutes of steadily drinking water and getting cooled down with water, he started to perk up. I stayed with the dog while the owner got his car to take him to the vet to ensure no further damage was done.

While this circumstance is rare, it was vital that someone knew what signs to look for and how to properly treat the dog. I was so relieved that we had the proper supplies and knowledge to help the pup.

Below we are outlining some essential need to know pet first aid facts:

Essential Equipment

As the cautionary story above tells you, water is always the first line of defense when a dog is going through heat stroke. We recommend that our clients always carry water and a collapsible water bowl on them for ease of use.

You can purchase a dog first aid kit, but if you don’t think that is necessary than carrying around basic gauze and antiseptic is always helpful. Getting abrasions during long walks and hikes is common, so having these supplies at the ready can help you avoid the situation getting worse.

Lastly, and perhaps the most scary, is the possibility of your dog getting off leash while on a walk. We’ve heard stories from many clients when their harness, collar or even leash breaks and their dog runs free. Without another form of attachment, the dog risks being hit by a car or injuring themselves further. This is why we always advise our clients to bring a slip lead with them in the event of equipment failure.

Pet First Aid

*The following information is from Trupanion and the University of Washington School of Medicine.*

CPR for cats and dogs is similar to CPR for humans.

  1. Remove any obstruction. Open the animal’s mouth and make sure the air passage is clear. If not, remove the object obstructing the air passage.
  2. Extend the head and give several artificial respirations.
    • For large dogs, close the dog’s jaw tightly and breathe into the nose. The dog’s chest should rise. Give 2 breaths.
    • For small dogs and cats, you may be able to cover the nose and mouth with your mouth as you breathe. The animal’s chest should rise. Give 2 breaths.
  3. Perform chest compression.
    • For large dogs, you may be able to position the dog on its back and compress the chest just like for humans.
    • For small dogs and cats as well as large dogs with funnel chests, you may need to lay the animal on its side and compress the side of the rib cage. Alternatively, you can position the animal on its back and press on both sides of the rib cage.
    • The rate of chest compressions varies with the size of the animal:
      • Dogs over 60 pounds: 60 compressions per minute
      • Animals 11 to 60 pounds: 80-100 compressions per minute
      • Animals 10 pounds or less: 120 compressions per minute
  4. Alternate breaths with compressions. The ratio of compressions to breaths should be approximately the same as for humans – 30:2. Continue doing this until the animal responds or begins to breathe on its own.

*These directions come from Learn CPR, a free public service supported by the University of Washington School of Medicine.*


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