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Pet First Aid Tips

Dog-owners can learn how to keep their pets safe and healthy during Pet First Aid Awareness Month

As dog owners, we know that our furry friends are part of the family. Emergency situations affect both two and four-legged family members and it's important to learn how to respond when the unexpected occurs. 

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Know the name and telephone number of 1-2 Emergency Veterinarians in your area. Keep their numbers handy at home and enter the numbers into your cell phone. If you won’t remember their names, put them under Dog Emergency Dr. so they are easy to find.
  • Take a class and be more prepared. The American Red Cross offers first aid and emergency preparedness classes at over 600 local chapters on a regular basis. To find a class being offered locally and to register, pet owners can visit and follow the “Take a Class” links. You can also call the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and choosing option 3 from the selection to talk with the American Red Cross Health and Safety Services Training Support Center.
  • Put together a Pet First Aid Kit in case the unthinkable happens. Being prepared is half the battle! Here is a list from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
  • First aid is not a substitute for veterinary care. Have your dog checked by a veterinarian immediately after administering first aid to be sure they are stable and all issues have been addressed.

Reacting in a moment's notice can make the difference in saving a pet's life. As reported on the Red Cross web site, Chris Thompson of Boydton, VA learned this to be true when her pooch Jade lost consciousness and needed pet first aid. Jade's lungs had filled with water when he was unable to find the water's surface after slipping between the pontoon boat and its dock.

What can you learn at a Red Cross First Aid Class? Beth Kilchenman, Executive Director for the Medina County Red Cross in Medina, Ohio, explains, “The Red Cross Pet First Aid class provides participants with a strong foundation in the basic tools, techniques and practices for keeping your dog safe and healthy, as well as procedures to follow in emergency situations. Classes are conducted in a single, two-and-a-half-hour session.” Pet First Aid includes hands-on training and features step-by-step instructions for a wide variety of pet health-related topics, including:

  • How to recognize if your pet is sick
  • How to care for your pet during a disaster, especially if you have to evacuate your home
  • How to measure your dog’s vital signs so you know what is “normal”
  • How to diagnose and treat common ailments such as dehydration
  • How to treat wounds and cuts
  • How to give medications to your dog
  • How to administer CPR and rescue breathing
  • And much, much more

For those who are unable to attend a Pet First Aid class, the Red Cross also offers a Pet First Aid Instruction Manual for Dogs. The 116-page full-color book also includes a companion DVD and retails for $16.95. The manual can be purchased online at the Red Cross Store by visiting

Your dog is a member of your family. Now is a great time to take the steps you can proactively, in case your dog needs you in an emergency. Being prepared will help your dog live a long and healthy life!

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