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Do You Know Pet CPR?

There are pet spas, pet daycares, and even pet bakeries. But animal lovers want to do more than pamper their pets. They also want to protect them.

So, the American Red Cross is offering pet first aid classes that include the ABCs of pet CPR. And animal lovers are serious about signing up, resident veterinarian Debbye Turner reports.

Rosie Lawson's daughter took in a stray cat, and before long Banjo became mom's best friend. And like any good mother, she wants to be prepared for emergencies.

Lawson says, "To be able to do something in case anything happens to him."

And she's not alone; a class is full of animal lovers, who want to get savvy with safety procedures that could help a pet in distress.

Tressa Everts explains, "In an ideal world, the vet would be on the corner, but they're not. So, they need to be able to handle the emergency with their pet, until they can get them to appropriate care.

She is a veterinary emergency technician, who teaches the four-hour course.

Everts says, "I want them to know what their animal's normal temperature, pulse and respiration are, that's very important. It's the guideline for what's going on with your animal. So that in the event of an emergency they can call a veterinarian and say, this is what is normal, this is what is current, and the vet can then say, you need to get the animal in or do this, do that."

Real pets aren't allowed in class. Instead, mannequins are used to demonstrate techniques.

In addition to lectures covering topics like capturing and handling an injured animal, the day's instruction also includes videos.

Natasha Pettigrew has a three-legged, chocolate Lab named Bill. Since it alreday has suffered one injury, she wants to help her dog live a long life.

She says, "By taking the course learning these things and practicing, I'd like to think it will give me enough confidence to do what needs to be able to be done."

Even if it means administering CPR, known in the classroom as, "mouth to snout!"

Asked if that that bothers her, Pettigrew says, "If Bill is injured then I wouldn't think any more of it than if my mom was injured."

Very often, injured animals are scared and likely to bite. So the course teaches pet owners how to devise a makeshift muzzle.

All of this is attracting pet owners from around the country.

The instructor says, "Some people I know have driven two or three hours to take this class."

A small sacrifice, they say, for what their pets do for them.

Holding her dog, Pettigrew says, "He means unconditional affection; he never judges me. To be able to take care of him when something happens means a lot to me."

For pet CPR, the course costs $35. But not all local Red Cross chapters offer it. Contact your local chapter to find the course nearest you. If there's no class near you, don't worry; the Red Cross has a book you can buy titled "Pet First Aid."

Debbye Turner advises pet owners to have the following items in their Pet First Aid Kit:

  • Latex gloves
  • Gauze sponges
  • 2-inch wide roll gauze
  • Roll bandages
  • Bandage tape
  • Non-adherent sterile pads
  • Small scissors
  • Grooming clippers
  • Nylon leash
  • Towel
  • Muzzle
  • Thermal blanket
  • Pediatric rectal thermometer
  • Water-based sterile lubricant
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Topical antibiotic ointment
  • Epsom salts
  • Baby dose syringe
  • Sterile eye lubricant
  • Sterile saline eye wash
  • Diphenhydramine, dose to your pet's size by your veterinarian
  • Corn syrup
  • Styptic pencil or powder
  • Expired credit card for scraping away stingers
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Penlight
  • Clean cloth
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • National Animal Poison Control Center phone number (800-548-2423)

And in the event of an emergency, Turner says you should know the emergency number for your veterinarian. Keep it posted on the refrigerator, and tell the veterinarian quickly and firmly what happened.

To find out if a dog, for example, is breathing watch the rib cage and see if it goes up and down. Also find the pulse on your dog, which you can find behind the pad on their feet on the front foot or back foot. And feel the rib cage just behind the left elbow. If the heart is beating, you should be able to feel it there. That's called the ABC: Airway, Breathing and Cardiac. That's what you should assess."

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