CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which is used to save human lives, works on your cat or dog too. Itís a good idea to know CPR, because even the fastest 911 responders can take several minutes to get to the patient, and that may be too long for someone who has stopped breathing. For your pet, there is no 911 response system, so itís really important to be able to revive your pet, until you can get him to an emergency pet hospital.
Weíre going to give you the basics here, but you should give yourself more thorough knowledge and training. The American Red Cross has excellent guidebooks, Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid, as well as Pet First Aid Courses to better prepare you for emergencies.
Pet CPR uses very similar techniques as human CPR Ė it involves mouth-to-snout resuscitation and chest compressions. There are variances in technique according to the size of your pet. Obviously, you wouldnít put as much pressure on a catís chest as you would a Great Daneís. So, here are some basics:
Use the ABCís:
A is for Airway. If your pet is unconscious for reasons unknown (wasnít in an accident) he may have choked on something. Open his mouth, look for an obstruction, and try to remove it. (Do not place your fingers inside the mouth if your pet is conscious Ė he may bite.) You may have to use abdominal thrusts or back blows to dislodge it Ė this is all described in the above-mentioned First Aid books.
B is for Breathing. If you have a cat, or a dog with a snout small enough to completely fit in your mouth, enclose the entire mouth and nose in your mouth. If your dogís snout wonít fit in your mouth, hold his mouth closed and put your mouth over his nose. Exhale and watch for the chest to rise.
C is for Circulation. Feel for your petís heartbeat Ė where the left elbow touches the chest. Donít assume that his heart has stopped when heís not breathing. If your pet is conscious and responding to you, his heart is beating. Perform chest compressions only when there is no heartbeat.
For chest compressions, lay your pet on his right side. For a cat or small dog (under 30 pounds), place a hand on each side of the ribs where your petís elbows touch the chest. Squeeze gently in rapid succession. For medium to large dogs, cup one hand over the other and place at the widest part of the chest. Compress the chest rapidly, 1 Ė 3 inches, depending on the size of your dog.
For cats and most dogs, you will need to give one breath for every five chest compressions, and for giant dogs (over 90 lbs), one breath for every 10 chest compressions. Your pet will need 20 Ė 30 breaths per minute (small pets need more than large), so itís a lot of fast work. If you have someone to help you, have one person handle the breathing and the other the chest compressions.
Ordinary pet owners have performed Pet CPR and saved lives. The important thing is to be prepared and not panic. We donít suggest you practice CPR on your pet ahead of time Ė that would be dangerous. But you can get familiar with where his heart is and practice where youíd place your hands. You can go to training and practice on a dog or cat manikin. And, you can study up on Pet CPR and other emergency care in Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid.
FIRST AID KIT
Itís kind of funny to think that most of us have a medicine cabinet stocked with bandages, tweezers, medications and other things we may need in case of a minor injury, but probably nothing for our pets! And really, if your dog or cat is more curious, rambunctious, reckless, and oblivious to danger than you are, who is more likely to get a big boo boo?
Because you may not have a 24-hour pet emergency hospital in your community, and your own veterinarian may not have evening or weekend hours for the minor fixes, itís wise to be well-supplied and prepared at home.
There are plenty of pet first aid kits available for purchase, and the American Red Cross will have their Pet First Aid Kit available this June (2008). Or, you might want to make your own kit Ė after all, you probably have a lot of the items on hand. They just need to be put together in one place for easy access in an emergency.
According to the American Red Cross, here are some of the basic things youíll need for your petís first aid kit. A complete list is available in the ARCís Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid books.
A list of emergency phone numbers: Veterinarianís office and after-hours numbers Emergency pet hospital Ė to locate one in your area, visit VetLocator.com Animal Poison Hotline: 1-888-232-8870 ($35.00 per incident charged to credit card) Cat First Aid or Dog First Aid book Muzzle that fits your pet Ė to keep him from biting during treatment Plenty of sterile bandages, gauze pads, gauze rolls, and hypo-allergenic adhesive tape for treating wounds. Cold compress Non-latex gloves Blunt end scissors (bandage scissors) Styptic powder to stop toenails from bleeding Nail clippers Tweezers Sterile eye wash and eye lubricant (available at pharmacies) Sterile water-based lubricant (such as KYģ Jelly) Ė helps hold fur away from wound Pen light Syringe, baby dose size Meds or other items for your petís specific medical conditions If you keep all your supplies in a handy container, you can just pack it up with the rest of your stuff when you travel with your pet. It may be more difficult to find an after-hours veterinarian when youíre on the road, so itís even more important to be prepared while traveling.
If your pet goes everywhere with you, itís a good idea to have a second kit to keep in your car or stay packed with your petís other gear.
BE READY FOR ANYTHING
If Hurricane Katrina taught pet owners anything, it was that we need to plan for our petsí safety in a disaster. Depending where you live, you could find yourself in a hurricane, tornado, flood, earthquake, wildfire, mudslide, or snow or ice storm. Any of these situations could mean evacuating, or hunkering down at home without utilities, water, or phone service for several days.
The American Red Cross strongly recommends that you be prepared and act early, especially when you have pets. Have a disaster plan and supplies ready.
At the first sign of dangerous weather, make sure your pets are safe indoors. Dogs tend to run away when frightened, and cats tend to hide. Put your cat in a carrier, so when you need to leave, you wonít have to search for your kitty-in-hiding.
If authorities are even considering issuing an evacuation order, thatís the time to get yourself and pets out-of-town. Know ahead of time where you would go, and know who would take care of your pets. Most emergency shelters canít take pets other than service animals, and animal shelters may be too crowded, so itís imperative that you have someone in mind to care for your furry friends. Getting out early means youíre less likely to get stuck in one of those epic traffic jams that make national news.
One of the most important things you can do for your pet is make sure he is wearing identification Ė this goes for cats too. Your pet, as well as his carrier, should have ID. Ideally, your pet should be microchipped. Your pet is much more likely to become separated from you in a disaster, and proper ID may be the only chance your pet has of coming back home to you.
Whether you evacuate or stay home, you need to have a Disaster Preparedness or Emergency Kit on hand Ė for you and your pets. You can buy a complete pet emergency kit for cats or dogs, which is very convenient, or you can assemble your own. Hereís what you need:
A pet first aid kit and first aid book Phone numbers of family, friends, animal shelters, veterinarian Medical records stored in waterproof container Food and water Ė 3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home. A manual can opener if feeding canned food. Portable food and water bowls Bedding, blanket and toys to reduce stress Your dogís or catís favorite treats Leash and harness Pet carrier Pet sanitation supplies Ė portable litter box and litter for cats, newspaper for dogs, and plastic bags to dispose of the waste.
One note on store-bought emergency kits Ė nearly all come with a small supply of vacuum-sealed pet food. As a caring pet food company, we recommend feeding that food only as a last resort. In a disaster, your pet will be upset enough. A new food can cause digestive issues Ė or your pet may refuse to eat it. On top of a disaster, you donít need your dog or cat throwing up, having diarrhea or going on a food strike. Itís better to store an unopened package of your petís own food in an airtight, waterproof container. Make sure the food has a Ďbest if used byí date thatís over a year out. Once a year, swap out the stored food for a new package. (Choose a swap-out date thatís easy to remember, like your petís birthday or Labor Day.) Feed your pet the stored food so nothing goes to waste.
For more information on disaster, visit Ready.gov and American Red Cross.
Source: American Red Cross Dog First Aid, Cat First Aid