Learning First Aid And Cpr For Your Pet



The pet first aid and CPR course, sponsored by Payson Parks and Recreation, provided participants with the ability to give immediate, temporary care to their pets in case of emergency. A trip to the veterinarian is the normal follow-up.

Gail Kenny, from the Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross, taught the class with assistance from a Red Cross video.


Stephanie Whetten watches as Julie Eckman practices resuscitation techniques on this special dog at the recent pet first aid and CPR class offered by Payson Parks and Recreation.

Pets are like children, in many ways. They cannot speak to tell us what hurts. They put everything in their mouths. They are curious and are totally dependent on us. The more we know, the more we can help them.

The number one rule: Know what is normal for your pet. We observe him or her every day. What color are his gums? Record his pulse rate and normal temperature. When his behavior is out of the ordinary, if we are observant, we will notice it right away.

Follow the 3 Cs.

  • Check the scene for the safety of your pet.
  • Call for help.
  • Care for him or her.

Having another person in an emergency is most helpful to get supplies, call the veterinarian, help with restraint and drive the car for the trip to the veterinarian.

Check the pulse rate with your first two fingers. One of the best spots to check the pulse is the inside of the rear thigh. Using a rectal thermometer on a pet can be compared to using one on a child and we might do more harm than good. There are digital thermometers that work in the ear. A normal temperature for a dog is between 100.2 and 102.8 degrees. A normal temperature for a cat is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees.

Anything under 100 or over 104 degrees is an emergency.

Participants in the pet first aid and CPR class had the opportunity to give CPR to stuffed dogs and cats.

We also learned how to muzzle an animal, even one with almost no nose at all, such as a pug dog or a Persian cat.

If the animal is unconscious or barely conscious, follow the ABCs of CPR -- Airway, Breathing, Circulation.

First, place the pet on his right side. Check the Airway. Is the animal Breathing? Look, listen and feel. Is there any Circulation? If the animal coughs or makes a noise, he has some air passage.

In a case of complete cardiac arrest, there is no breathing and no pulse and the eyes would be dilated. Quick compressions in the area of the fifth rib are the best way to restore circulation. The more compressions, the more oxygen you will be getting to the brain. The blood needs to be circulating.

Mouth-to-nose resuscitation for dogs and cats is done by holding the mouth closed and breathing into his or her nose. If there is some air passage, you will see his ribs rise and fall.

This procedure is much easier with two people. Even when done by an experienced veterinarian, it does not always work. You do the best you can and know that you gave it your best effort.

In case of severe bleeding, apply pressure using a gauze nonstick pad if possible. Do not remove this pad once applied, as this will disrupt any coagulation of the blood that has begun. Instead, add more pads or towels on top to absorb the blood. An ice pack placed on top of the gauze can help control bleeding.

With broken bones, keep the limb in the position it was found and transport immediately to the veterinarian. A splint should be used only if it is absolutely necessary to immobilize.

A pet first aid kit should include gauze pads, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, scissors, material for muzzling or splinting, disposable gloves, alcohol prep pads, peroxide, adhesive tape and petroleum jelly for starters. Also, your veterinarian's phone number, an emergency phone number and address, your pet's health and vaccination records and the phone number of the poison control center should be in this kit.

If you know what to do in case of emergency, you will not freeze. A clear head is necessary.

Class members discussed the frustrating lack of emergency veterinary services available locally. With so many vets practicing in Payson, there ought to be a way to provide emergency care with the veterinarians available on a rotating basis. Doctors do it. Pet owners now must transport their pets to the 24-hour emergency hospital in Mesa. But, too often, the pet does not survive the two-hour drive.

This is only an overview of pet first aid and CPR. The learning is ongoing. The more we know, the more we can do to help.

The Payson Humane Society is sponsoring a Spay/Neuter clinic on Thursday, March 29. The Plateau Land Mobile Clinic, from the Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff, will provide the services in the lot behind the shelter. The surgery fee is $45 for any animal weighing less than 60 pounds. Additional fees may apply. Vaccinations and other services will be available to surgery patients at an additional reduced fee. Appointments are necessary.

For an appointment or for more information, call the clinic toll-free at (888) 241-9731.

Have you signed up for the "Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound 5K walk/run on Saturday, March 31?

This 3.1-mile walk/run, sponsored by Payson Parks and Recreation Department, will begin at Rumsey Park at 10 a.m. The $25 registration fee, paid in advance, includes an event T-shirt for both two-legged and four-legged walkers.

Day of event registration is $35 and you are not guaranteed a T-shirt. All dogs must be leashed -- 6-foot length max -- and owners must provide cleanup bags.

If you do not have a dog, you can choose one of the most willing loaners provided by the Payson Humane Society.

You can register online at www.paysonparks.com or stop by the parks office at 1000 W. Country Club Drive. See you there.

-- Christy Powers can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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