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Natural Awakenings Fairfield County & Housatonic Valley CT

Pet Owners Need a Pet First-Aid Class: Prepare for Your Pet’s Unplanned Accidents

Dec 10, 2018 02:30AM ● By Mary Oquendo

The holiday season is upon us. Thoughts of what we should get for our pets are top of mind. What if instead of getting them another stuffed toy and bag of cookies, we give them the gift of saving their life? Accidents can and do happen so as pet owners, we owe it to our pets to be prepared for the unplanned.

The American Animal Hospital
Association (AAHA) says 60 percent of all veterinary visits are emergency in nature. They go on to state that 25 percent more pets could have been saved if only one pet first-aid technique was applied before emergency veterinary treatment. A study in the American Veterinary Journal found that only 10 percent of pets needing cardio pulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, would survive if it was not done before arrival at the veterinarian’s office. Another study by the AAHA shows preventable accidents as the leading cause of death and disability among pre-senior pets. Without their owners receiving proper training, these percentages are not in favor of injured or sick pets.

What are some safety issues that relate directly to pets?

Sudden blunt force trauma happens if a pet falls off a deck, or two pets collide while playing. We can slip while carrying a pet. Take advantage of the “golden hour.” It takes approximately one hour for adrenaline to dissipate from the body after an injury. Symptoms are not felt until the adrenaline is gone. Once symptoms present, it’s generally too late. Look at Natasha Richardson as an example of someone who wasted that hour. She was an actress who died after hitting her head in a ski accident because she refused on-site medical treatment. When symptoms presented later, it was too late.

Neck injuries or strangulation can happen when a collar of a pet gets snagged on anything and the pet struggles to get loose. 

Hypothermia can be caused by prolonged exposure to cool or cold temperatures. It may not take long to induce hypothermia as the pet’s temperature only needs to be lowered by four degrees.

Dehydration can be a result of no fresh water provided to the pet. Stress can also cause dehydration. It can lead to organ failure or death in a very short time.

Burns can result from overexposure to hot sun or pavement. Other common causes are chewing on electrical cords or spilling hot food on them if they are under foot.

Heatstroke from being left too long with a hot car can easily happen. In 70-degree weather, it only takes 15 minutes to reach an intolerable temperature inside that car. The young, old, immune-suppressed and brachycephalic dogs—and any cat—are particularly susceptible. (Brachycephalic dogs have pushed in faces, such as shih tzus and pugs.)

Bleeding injuries and wounds occur.

Heart failure can be caused by stress, chewing on electrical cords, electrocution and preexisting medical conditions. 

A seizure can be brought on by poisoning, stress and preexisting medical conditions. 

Poisoning occurs when a pet ingests, inhales or otherwise absorbs improperly stored cleaning and pesticide products. Older dogs are more susceptible to a seizure brought on by the HV dryer.

Choking can take place with an inappropriately sized treat or toy, and any treat given to a dog that gulps his food.

Allergic reaction to a bug bite or food.

Most of the above are preventable accidents. However, accidents are not planned. In spite of a pet owner’s due diligence, a pet may still become injured. What can we do? Take a pet first-aid class

Written materials and videos alone are not a pet first-aid class. To properly learn these skills, an instructor must be properly trained. Be choosy and ask questions. What did their training consist of? Pet first aid and CPR is best learned through a combination of lectures, demonstrations and hands-on skill teaching. 

A class should include responses for bleeding and shock, restraining and muzzling, primary pet assessment, rescue breathing, CPR, fracture and limb injuries, insect bites and stings, snakebite, seizures, first aid kits and emergency preparedness kits, poisoning and poisonous substances, and choking and snout to tail assessments. An even better class will also advocate a healthy pet lifestyle. This includes the importance of dental care and should also stress the importance of when to seek veterinary care and of establishing a relationship with the veterinarian.

Taking a pet first-aid class is the right thing to do. It may prevent an injury from escalating and putting a pets’ life at risk. In addition, injuries attended to quickly will heal faster and with less pain than if treated later. We are responsible for the pets in our lives. 

Mary Oquendo is a Reiki master, advanced crystal master and certified master tech pet first aid instructor. She is the owner of Pawsitive Education. She can be reached at See ad, page 49.

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