By Sue Wilson, Red Cross Board Member and Volunteer
April 1, 2019- You probably have a first aid kit at home or in your car. You know you should have some knowledge in first aid basics to handle anything from minor cuts and scrapes to a broken bone or even something more serious to help a friend or family member in an emergency. But first aid for your pet? It may not be something you think about until you find your dog ate that dark chocolate bar you left out on the counter. Or your bug-swatting cat got stung by the bee he was playing with.
April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. The American Red Cross has a number of resources and tips available to pet owners so you’ll know what to do in an emergency until veterinary care is available.
Download the App. The Red Cross free Pet First Aid App provides instant access to expert guidance on what to do in emergencies, how to include pets in your emergency preparedness plans, and suggestions for a first aid kit. The app will also help owners keep their pets safe by learning what emergency supplies to have, when they should contact their veterinarian, and where to find a pet care facility or pet-friendly hotel.
Another important resource on the app is suggestions for how to put together a first aid and emergency kit. See the list below. The app also provides access to step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations including how to treat wounds, control bleeding, and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies.
The Pet First Aid App can be downloaded by texting GETPET to 90999, by going to redcross.org/apps, or by searching American Red Cross in app stores.
Take a pet first aid class. Pet owners can take the Red Cross online Pet First Aid Course on their desktop or tablet at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid and go through the content at their own pace. It takes approximately 30 minutes to complete the course. Participants can stop and pick up where they left off if the course can’t be completed in one sitting. The interactive course includes:
- How to determine a pet’s normal vital signs so owners can notice if there are any irregularities
- Step-by-step instructions and visual aids for what to do if a pet is choking, needs CPR, has a wound, or is having a seizure
- Information on preventative care, health and tips for a pet’s well-being
Additional resource. Each year the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center examines its data and releases the Top 10 categories of toxins pets come in contact with each year. Find the list of top 10 toxins and other important information here.
Recommended items for your pet first aid kit: Leashes, food, water, toys, medical records and an animal carrier for evacuation purposes, gauze pads, cotton balls, adhesive tape, fresh 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (always check with veterinarian or animal poison control expert before giving to your pet), ice pack, disposable gloves, blunt end scissors, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, oral syringe or turkey baster, liquid dish washing detergent (for bathing), towels, flashlight, alcohol wipes and artificial tear gel.
Both the Cat and Dog First Aid online course and the Pet First Aid App are not intended to replace veterinary care. But knowing some first aid basics, and having a pet first aid resource can be reassuring to any pet lover until you can get your pet to a veterinarian.
Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer