What pet doesn’t love treats. Sometimes in the evening I sit in the middle of my small living room surrounded by 3 Shih Tzus & 1 Peki-huahua, and we begin practicing our individual tricks. The tricks can be advanced such as a sit pretty with a high 10 stretch or as simple as learning and reinforcing sit. The treats of choice are usually regular Cheerios or Zukes Minis. But sometimes accidents can happen, and a treat goes down the wrong way and what are you going to do?
Luckily for me a little over a year ago I took a pet first aid and cpr class and Trixie began choking on a treat, immediately I went into action. I checked her mouth and did a clean safe sweep, no treat, followed by a quick doggie Heimlich maneuver, still no treat, but she was able to cough on her own until she expelled. Yeah!! Shih Tzu saved!
Without any warning tragedy can strike either your cat or dog and you need to be ready. Even if you have taken a regular CPR/First Aid course for humans, the anatomy of a cat and dog are totally different then we are. So what may be proper procedure for us may not be for our pets, and that in itself may be a recipe for danger. This makes pet specific training so important.
There are a couple of things that every pet parent must know. I like to call them my ‘Happy Puppy Vitals’: Respiration, Pulse, Temperature, Hydration, Capillary Refill Time & Weight. I keep a list of these measurements handy so I have a baseline of their vitals, a measurement when my dogs are at rest, and a measurement of when they are at play.
Respiration: small dogs or cats 20-40bpm(breaths per minute); Large/Medium dogs 10-30bpm
Pulse: small dogs or cats 110-120 bpm (beats per minute); Large/Medium dogs 70-160 bpm
Temperature: under the tail 100.4 – 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit
Hydration: grab the skin at the nape of the neck and release, the skin should bounce back to its former position and not remain in the position you released it at.
Capillary Refill Time: press on the gums and release, the color should return with 1-2 seconds.
First Aid Kit Supplies:
- 4×4 Gauze Squares
- Rolled Gauze
- Adhesive Tape or Self-Adhering Bandage
- Cotton Swabs & Styptic Powder
- Blunt-Nosed Scissors
- Cold Pack
- Eye Dropper
- Needle-less Syringe (in multiple sizes)
- Antihistamine Tablets (ask vet about proper dosage for your pet if needed)
- Electrolytes (Pedialyte or K9 Quencher)
- Towel or Blanket
- Hydrogen Peroxide 3%
- Eye Wash or Saline Solution
- Antibiotic ointment, Vitamin E or Pure Aloe Vera Gel
- Digital Thermometer
- Antacid Tablets (ask vet about proper dosage for your pet if needed)
So when do you know the situation has reached a level of escalation needed to seek veterinary care? When your pet has:
Massive trauma to head, chest or abdomen
First time or prolonged seizures
Arterial bleeding (bright red squirting blood)
Bites, puncture wounds or long deep cuts
Fractures or Inability to walk
Unconsciousness for any length of time
Poisoning or snake bites
Anytime you have had to administer rescue breathing or cpr
To find a local class for specific Pet First Aid/CPR I have listed a couple of great organizations for certification. When signing up for a class, make sure hands on simulations including rescue breathing & cpr (with a dog mannequin), bandage wrapping and proper restraining techniques in an emergency situation are included.