Knowing CPR and first aid important for pet owners

By Dr. JoAnne Roesner, DVM, DABVP Loving Hands Animal Hospital

Have you ever agonized when your pet was ill or injured because you did not know how to help?

Would you know what to do if your pet suddenly ceased to breathe, or if your retriever had a tennis ball stuck in his/her throat? And do you know what is truly poisonous to your pet, and what is just dangerous?

Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are not common knowledge, and looking them up is nearly impossible in a true emergency situation.

The American Red Cross urges all pet owners to include their four-legged companions in their overall family safety and health plan. Owners should know everything from basic first aid, to more advanced care, and what supplies to keep on hand in case their pet has an emergency.

In an effort to help our clients and patients, Loving Hands Animal Clinic in Alpharetta developed a first aid and pet CPR course 20 years ago, and has helped hundreds of families (and their pets) over the years.

During the training events, veterinarians from Loving Hands train participants in safe handling and moving of injured pets. They learn common toxic substances, what to do, and how to contact ASPCA Animal Poison Control in the event of an emergency. Bandaging, splinting, and wound care are demonstrated.

Attendees are given the opportunity to practice CPR on a dummy dog, to identify normal vital signs and to safely perform the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge airway obstructions. Emergency interventions for seizures, heatstroke, vomiting, diarrhea, and other internal emergencies are also outlined. A manual to keep at home is provided.

A public training event is held in the spring each year, but an abbreviated presentation can be done for private groups including social or neighborhood groups. As with all of our community events, this training is free of charge.

If you would like a copy of our manual, please email

Knowledge gained can not only save the life of your pet, but any injured animal you encounter. A basic knowledge of pet care can take away the feeling of helplessness because you will know how to intervene safely. ■


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