I’ll confess: the thought of learning mouth-to-snout resuscitation was almost a deal-breaker.
I don’t even know human first aid, so the fact that I took on this class first shows how much value I put on Fido. My own cuts, scrapes and stomach upsets are easy to deal with, but faced with fur, fangs and a creature a fraction of my size, I’m left wringing my hands.
Or rather, I used to be. As a recent graduate of Denise Fleck’s Sunny-dog Ink Pet First Aid and CPR class, I now have the basic know-how and tools to respond for Joey’s sake.
Here are the key lessons I learned:
- Prevention is better than treatment. It’s easier to keep the box of chocolates out of the dog’s reach than to treat to treat him later.
- Do a weekly head-to-tail check of your dog marking your findings on a sketch or drawing. The check includes the condition of the dog’s skin, the condition of his coat, his eyes, ears, mouth, teeth, belly, paws (including pads, toes and claws) and pulse and breathing rate. “It teaches you what’s normal for your dog,” she said.
- Do a dog’s eye level safety check of your home.
- Know where the nearest animal emergency center is in relation to your home, your favorite dog park or anywhere else you frequently go with your dog. Check their hours, services and how they accept payment before you need their help. Much of first aid is buying time until you can get your pet to a fully trained veterinarian.
- Have a disaster plan for taking care of your pets. Remember that in a disaster, many shelters serving humans don’t accept pets and pressures on doggie day care center, kennels and other shelters will be intense after an emergency.
- Practice, practice, practice. Knowing how to muzzle a dog quickly saves time in an emergency and saves you a possible bite. Practicing regularly on your own pets desensitizes them to the process. Regularly reviewing a pet first aid book keeps information fresh in your mind.
Has pet first aid training changed my life?
Yes, in some ways. I now have a first aid kit for Joey, which I’ve decided I will also use as the household first aid kit. As the photo shows, I’ve been practicing my muzzling and bandaging kills, much to Joey’s disgust. On dog walks, I now carry a simple leash that I can loop around a dog into a harness in the event that Joey’s fails or we encounter a loose dog.
Reviewing disaster preparations has gotten a lot of attention in our household over the last several months, but still has a ways to go to be stable. Joey’s well-being is definitely a part of that.