The WORLD, March/April 2009 Volume XV Issue 2by Thom Somes, “The Pet Safety Guy™”
Topics: Pet-Care, first-aid
Since April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month and our theme is “PetSaver Trained. PetSaver Prepared,” I thought I would cover the top five pet emergency situations that you are most likely to encounter as a pet sitter. All of these situations can be addressed using the skills and techniques taught in the Pet Tech’s PetSaver Training, as these skills are best learned by lecture, demonstration and hands-on skill practice that are offered in our classes.
One Open Wounds, including bites, cuts, lacerations and abrasions. First aid actions include muzzling, restraint, controlling bleeding and treating for shock. Depending on the severity of the injury, the pet may need veterinary care, including stitches and medication to treat possible infection. X-rays could be warranted if any sudden blunt trauma was involved. This is a common problem and keeping a fanny pack pet first aid kit at hand is a must for every pet care professional.
Two Choking. Dogs are at greater risk of choking than cats. Cats don’t usually choke because they are such finicky eaters. The greatest dangers to cats are strings, ribbons and tinsel that they ingest causing an obstruction in the intestines. Items dogs usually choke on are handballs, tennis balls, chew toys and rawhides. The pet industry is bigger than the human toy industry, but less regulated. Therefore, it is important to choose a toy that can standup to the strong jaws and sharp teeth of our pets. Actions for survival for choking depends on which of the following three situations of choking they are be in:
Three Heat Injury, including heat stroke and burns of the skin and airway. Heatstroke can be caused by pets being in confined spaces with little or no ventilation or water (think a car). Warm weather with high humidity and stress can also be factors. Dogs cool themselves by panting, passing cooler air over their gums and tongue. Short-nosed breeds (Pekinese, Boxers, Pugs, etc., and short-nosed cat breeds such as the Persian) are more susceptible to overheating as their “radiators” (mouths and gums) are too small for their body sizes. Signs of heat stroke include uncontrollable panting, foaming at the mouth, rapid heart rate, vomiting, lethargy, the tongue initially bright red and a capillary refill rate longer than two seconds. Actions for survival include restraining and muzzling, bathing or hosing down with cool water, treating for shock, monitoring the temperature and contacting a veterinarian and transporting the pet to the nearest pet emergency hospital.
Four Insect Bite, Sting and Allergic Reactions can be caused by ants, bees, hornets, wasps and spiders. Dogs and cats are inquisitive and get into colonies or holes where these insects live. The biggest danger is a severe allergic reaction. Unless you observe the pet being stung/bitten, you may not be immediately aware of what is going on. Your first sign may be incessant licking and scratching and then upon investigation you find localized swelling, redness and pain at the injury site. Actions for survival include immobilization, which serves to reduce the pet’s activity to keep it from spreading the toxin further. Treat symptoms as they present and keep the pet comfortable, which is also code for “under control.” Before a pet ever encounters this problem, the owner should consult with the pet’s veterinarian on what the proper dosage of antihistamine would be for that pet. Pet Tech recommends Benadryl® (diphenhydramine) in the gel caps in the blister packaging (the generic version of this is fine too). Tape a safety pin on the back with the correct dosage for the pet written on the tape, too. The medication can be carried in a pet first aid kit. To administer, just poke a hole in the gel cap and squeeze it into the pet’s mouth.
Five Snakebites are very dirty wounds. Regardless of whether the bite is poisonous or non-poisonous, the pet needs wound care and antibiotic treatment. Signs include one or two puncture wounds, severe pain, swelling and bruising. If the snake is poisonous, then immediate actions for survival include restraint, muzzling, treatment for shock and transportation to the nearest animal hospital that has antivenin. If you live in a snake-infested area, then you may want to have conversations with your clients about this problem and have them check with their veterinarians on treatments with antivenin for snakebites.
Be Ready to Provide Immediate Care
Although these are the top five most-likely situations you will encounter as a pet lover and pet care professional, our message, as always is highlighting the importance of learning the necessary skills and techniques of CPR, first aid and care for our four-legged, furry, family members. Pet First Aid is the immediate care given to a pet that has been injured or suddenly taken ill. This includes home care and, when necessary, veterinary help. Knowing the skills and techniques of pet first aid can mean the difference between life and death, temporary and permanent disability, and expensive veterinarian bills and reasonable home care. According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) one out of four more pets could be saved if just one basic pet first aid skill or technique was applied prior to receiving veterinary care.
In conclusion, make it a professional goal to take the PetSaver™ Training. Then you will be more prepared to react in the event of a medical emergency involving your pets. Then make a lifelong commitment to be proactive in the wellness for your pet. Buy the book, “Knowing Your Pet’s Health, A Guide for Optimal Wellness from Snout-To-Tail” to learn more about the five components of optimal wellness for pets and much more. I think you will discover that if pet owners apply and practice three of the five recommendations, they will get good results. With four of the five, great results can be seen in the pets. But when all five components are in place, the results are incredible! By knowing the pet’s health of each of your clients’ pets, you will be in the top echelon of your profession.
Pet Tech’s programs are recommended by Pet Sitters International. Successful completion of Pet Tech trainings applies towards the renewal of the Pet Sitters International Accreditation Program. Teaching pet CPR, first aid and care is a great way to increase your bottom line, attract new clients and service your existing clients with information they want and need to know! If you are interested in becoming an instructor or looking for an instructor in your area, visit www.PetTech.net, call (760) 930-0309 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to ask for the Pet Sitters International discount.
© Copyright 2011 by Pet Sitters International. All rights reserved. For reprint permission for this article, contact EllenPrice@petsit.com.
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