Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pet First Aid and CPR - My Wake-up Call!

Okay - different topic. I just want to talk about how important getting this training is, how easy it is, and how inexpensive--considering the possible consequences if you don't.

I just completed my yearly refresher course and only this weekend I saved a life that I wouldn't have been able to had I not taken the course.

Okay - so it was not a dog but rather a squirrel in Trinity Bellwoods Park, but the point still remains.

Here is a rundown on what you get with your certification:
- Knowledge of the importance of prevention of illness, injury and veterinary care
-Appropriate restraining of an injured animal
-How to take vital signs
-Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation
-Artificial respiration
-Heimlich on a pet (dog or cat)
-Recognizing and treating shock
-Poisons and poisoning
-Medical conditions triage (what constitutes an emergency situation)
-Administering medications

Nobody wants to ever have to use these skills or this knowledge but accidents happen all the time.  Knowing what to do, when, with what and so on can mean the difference between life or death for your loved one.

As I was taking the course the first time, I was shocked and amazed at how much I didn't know and I have been around animals (horses, dogs, cats, etc. etc.) all my life and thought I had a pretty good grasp of the situation. I didn't - clearly.

So here was my 'wake up call': Raj and Vanda ran up to 'something' in the grass. They are not 'killers'. They were just curious. There before me lay a drenched, barely breathing baby squirrel. I said "Off" to the dogs so they would step away for me to look. Both promptly did.

I picked up the tiny, soaked creature and examined him for injuries.  The only visible thing was an 'abrasion' on his tummy. Yet, he was not moving just breathing. There was no discharge of any kind anywhere nor any erratic movements so I surmised he had not been poisoned. He looked healthy enough (all things considered) so doubted he had a 'disease'.

Had a dog grabbed him and shook him leaving him for dead? I checked his reflexes in all his limbs and they were working. He could hold his head up but seemed dazed, confused and disoriented.

To say he looked like a drowned rat was an understatement. But we had just started our walk and I thought, perhaps, if I just put him safely in the tree he could recover from what I assessed was shock from having falling from the tree. He did make some feeble attempts to climb higher but clearly didn't have the strength. I decided to leave him there and check on him when we finished our walk.

1 hour later we returned to the tree. We didn't see him anywhere so we started to walk away thinking he had climbed to safety. Not so! About 30' later we saw he had fallen to the ground again.

My Gawd, my heart went out to the poor thing so I wrapped him in some paper towels I take with me on walks for emergencies and took him home for more intensive attention.

My first aid book was handy and I looked up "Shock" and found that he was likely suffering from 'hypothermia' and 'hypoglycemia'. I followed the instructions to the letter including rubbing natural honey on his gums to boost his blood sugar. I wrapped him up and placed him close to a light bulb to dry him off and increase his body temperature.

All this time I was thinking, "he would have died if I didn't know what to do! This could have been one of my dogs or cats!" Accidents happen and shock is extremely common and very potentially fatal if not treated right away.

This little critter was in shock because he fell out of a tree on a rainy day in the summer time.

How mundane is that?

Anything, and I mean anything, as mundane as that could happen to any one of our pets, at anytime, and we may very well not be able to get them to the vet in time to save them if we don't know what to do in the mean time.  I am quite sure this little squirrel is grateful I took this course. For that, alone, it was worth every penny I spent.

I have heard vets say that if a person is versed in first aid they can substantially increase the likelihood of getting an animal safely to the vet, never mind actually saving his or her life.

Your dog or cat may not get in fights. You might do your best by keeping them 'on leash' at all times. But you can never guard, utterly, against the unexpected.

So, on my blog today I just want to sing out how grateful I am at this moment for having taken the time to learn these skills.

BTW, today I returned the squirrel to his family when I went into the park first thing this morning. By the time we left he was unrecognizable from all his many brothers and sisters who were all foraging blissfully around in the wet grass for chestnuts that had fallen.

I was in heaven. I hugged Raj and Vanda and we went trotting off home to get ready for work.


Walks 'n Wags
See website for the schedule of courses for pets

Pet First Aid and CPR (on demand)
This is great because you do it in your own home at your own pace. You can review it and if you have questions they respond to you within 24hours. They also offer yearly refresher courses.

Apparently St. John Ambulance and/or the Red Cross offers it too but I was unable to locate and courses available currently in Toronto. If anybody knows of any other places that offer this please let me know.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Anne: What an incredible story! You are a natural healer, bless your heart! What a lucky little squirrel to have you happen upon him like that! Keep up the faith and good work!