Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Do you know FURst aid?

Pet emergencies are far less terrifying when owners know what to do, who to call

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Few things can cause an owner to feel as helpless than a pet emergency. I'll never forget the panic I felt the day I discovered my cat had been shot with a pellet gun. Ninny, a beautiful white shorthair, was shy, sweet and had paws large enough to create envy in any prize fighter.

At the time, it was still legal for cats to be outside. Occasionally, Ninny would walk on the fence. One of our young neighbours hated cats. He shot her point blank in the thigh. It was fortunate she was white. Had her coat had been darker I might not have noticed the blood as quickly. It took me what seemed like hours, but was likely seconds, before I thought to call my boyfriend to drive me and Ninny to her veterinarian.

Thankfully, a gunshot wound isn't a common crisis. Every pet owner will face an emergency in their animal's life.

As in the human world, prevention is the key. Most of us are aware of the dangers of toxins, like raisins and chocolate in dogs. And we know to hide electrical cords from cats who like to chew. But did you know that you should be really careful when you take your own pills? One acetaminophen pill poses danger to a cat or small dog. Pets are often quick to lick up whatever's on the floor; if only they were knew how to mop it instead.

As parents, we are prepared to deal with our kids' broken bones or bloody noses. How many of us know what to do for our pets? Would you know how to recognize and handle a canine seizure? Just so you know, the answer isn't to ball like a baby and phone your veterinarian at home in the middle of the night. Some of them don't like that (mine was really patient). The things we neglect to consider often cause injuries. When my sister was a teen, she used sponges to apply foundation makeup. To a human, this isn't an object we'd confuse with food. But to a three-month-old chihuahua puppy, a makeup sponge is not only fun to chew, it's tasty. The oil in the sponge nearly killed Tequi. Had my mother not understood atypical behaviour in our pup, Tequi wouldn't have gone on to live 17 more years.

Ask your veterinarian for his or her suggested emergency number. Keep it handy.

Situations like that is why Lolo Eckert, from Emergency Essentials, encourages owners to keep a pet first aid kit and pet emergency numbers accessible.

"Statistics show that preventable accidents are the leading cause of death... 25 per cent more pets could be saved if just one pet first aid technique were applied prior to getting veterinary care," says Eckert.

Eckert's husband, Kerry Eckert, is a paramedic. He knows that seconds count in a human emergency. It's no different in the animal world. As a veterinary consultant, Lolo Eckert realized that a formal pet first aid course didn't exist. They wanted to change that and their company was born.

Eckert refers to the course as "paws on." It's an opportunity to show owners how to stop pet bleeding, reduce possibility of infection, keep body temperature normal and prevent brain damage and even death.

By no means is their course meant to replace veterinary care, but rather, to stabilize the pet until you can get medical assistance.

Lessons learned in their course aren't useful merely for pet owners. Many animal lovers would run to any animal's side if it were sick or injured. Humans welcome assistance in an emergency, but animals may bite or scratch as a means of instinctive protection. The Emergency Essentials course will instruct you on how to protect yourself in cases such as these. It will explain how to assess an injury, approach an ill animal and how to transport it to safety. It will teach you how to deal with rescue breathing, choking, shock and even severe bleeding.

Hopefully, you won't have to live through the situations my family did. Had I been armed with proper first aid knowledge, I would have understood that my reaction shouldn't have been to panic and cry like a bride unable to fit into her wedding dress.

For those interested in Eckerts' service, contact them at www.emergency-essentials.ca or call 1-877-910-0911. Also, the Winnipeg Humane Society is holding two classes with Eckert. One is on Aug. 30 and the next is Sept. 13. Contact Lindsay from the WHS for further information at (204)982-3555.

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 17, 2010 C6

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