By Jim CunninghamMay 12, 2010
CASEY GARRISON South Korea - What if you returned home from work and found your pet schnauzer laying on the floor and not breathing' Would you know how to check if he has a heartbeat or is breathing' He may have only minutes or seconds to live., Wwould you know what to do'
To most of us, swapping saliva with our pets trying to give them mouth to mouth resuscitation, or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation as it is known to the medical world, is not a savory thought. But for Red Cloud Veterinarian Capt. Amanda McGuire it is a normal and easy thing to do.
"Animals have become family members over the years," she said. "They have become very important as support, stress relievers; there are a lot of benefits to having animals, and we feel close to our pets. People want to keep them around as long as possible, they want to do the best they can for them, and part of that is being prepared in the event of an emergency so they can provide initial treatment to get them to the next level of care with their veterinarian."
The American Red Cross saw the need to provide a class of instruction about how to give pets first aid and CPR., and Leah Barber, the assistant station manager on Casey Garrison, decided to sponsor the class as one of the annual first aid and CPR classes they offer.
"This class is one of a series we offer training Soldiers and family members how to give emergency aid, to family members or their pets" she said. " We do this class for the same reasons we do human CPR."
Barber explains when she teaches a human first aid and CPR class, she says she hopes no one will have to be in the situation when a family member requires emergency care, but these are the essential skills they should have to, maybe, save a life, human or pet.
"As much as you probably don't want to swap spit with your dog, if you see your dog choking you will be able to do something about it," she said. "It think this is important for a lot of people."
There are hygienic methods to performing CPR on animals, and it isn't as unsavory as one might imagine, McGuire explains.
"There are a lot of techniques," she said. "It is not only the mouth to mouth resuscitation we teach, there is also the bandaging of wounds and responses to other injuries and other first aid techniques. CPR is not a technique that is used often."
There is a limit to what kind of pets the course will cover, McGuire says, the course is mainly for cats and dogs.
"The class is focused on cats and dogs; these are the primary pets people have.," she said.
McGuire does admit that exotic animals have become near regular as pets in the home and some can have exotic problems.
"Snakes can have problems such as egg impaction," she said. "When you get a pet that is an exotic animal, go to your veterinarian and get information about it."
The class does instruct pet owners how to do many things that are similar to first aid and CPR for humans. There are techniques for compressing the chests of cats and dogs, which will produce similar results as the Heimlich maneuver.
Just as it is important to have a good, well stocked first aid kit at home for humans, it is important also to have one for your pet, and perhaps one in your car as does McGuire.
"I carry a first aid kit similar to the one we have in class so if I happen on an accident when I am away from the clinic or home, I can apply first aid," McGuire said.
These kits have many useful things such as bandages prepared especially for animals because of their fur. Most animals have fuir of some kind and a human bandage with glue on one side would not work well for a pet. They need bandages that will work and hold on to wounds in spite of fur or size of their limbs. And there is, for good reason, a plastic cover for giving CPR to a dog or a cat. It is use by placing it over the nose area and blowing through a hole with your hands cupped over their snout. This is much better than the alternative.
"This is becoming a popular class more and more," McGuire said. "More family members are coming to this area now and they are bringing their pets."