The American Red Cross reminds pet owners to plan for any type of pet-related emergency.
You might know all about the American Red Cross and its mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering. But did you know the organization also devotes time to the safety and well-being of pets? In fact, the American Red Cross has designated April as National Pet First Aid Awareness month to help pet owners learn more about how they can help their cats and dogs in case a medical situation arises. The organization offers these tips to determine if your pet is experiencing a health emergency at home.
- Signs of pet poisoning include dilated pupils, drooling or foaming at the mouth, seizures, bleeding and abnormal behavior.
- If your pet has a seizure, do not restrain him. Make sure he is in a safe place and keep your hands away from his mouth so he doesn’t accidentally bite you.
- Signs of heat stroke include collapse, unsteadiness, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased salivation, a bright red color on the mucous membranes, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, and a body temperature of 104 degrees F or higher.
- If you think your pet might be dehydrated, you can check by pulling up the skin between her shoulder blades. If the skin stays “tented” instead of springing back in to place, your pet is likely dehydrated.
As part of its efforts to educate owners about pet first aid, the American Red Cross also offers a Pet First Aid app for smart phones. The app is designed to provide veterinary advice for common pet emergencies through videos, interactive quizzes and basic guidance in a step-by-step format. Users can easily research toxic substances from the app’s comprehensive list or learn how to quickly step in to save a dog from choking. Other features include:
- Early warning signs for when to contact a vet.
- An animal hospital locator.
- Pet profile that allows you to store your pet’s tag number, photo and medical information.
To download the app or any of the other apps offered by the American Red Cross, go to redcross.org/mobileapps.
You can also take additional steps to keep your pets healthy. For National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, the American Red Cross recommends taking these steps:
- Ensure your pet receives plenty of exercise.
- Always provide fresh, cool water.
- Schedule annual checkups with your vet.
- Have your pet spayed or neutered.
- Learn how to perform pet CPR. The American Red Cross offers pet first-aid manuals with DVDs that teach basic first aid procedures, how to perform CPR and what you can do to prepare for disasters. For more information, visit redcrossstore.org or call 800-RED-CROSS.
And in case of a natural disaster that displaces you and your pets from your home, the American Red Cross recommends assembling a portable kit that includes the following:
- Leashes, harnesses and/or pet carriers
- Food, drinking water, bowls and a manual can opener if necessary
- Any medications and copies of your pets’ medical records
- Current photos of your pets, in case you are separated
Having such a kit on hand could be crucial in times of natural disaster, as most Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets due to health and safety concerns. As you focus on pet first aid and health during April, plan ahead for any type of emergency.
About the Author: Stacy N. Hackett is an award-winning writer with more than 25 years’ experience in the pet industry. She is the former editor of Pet Product News and a former staff editor with Cat Fancy, Cats USA, Critters USA and Ferrets USA. To learn more about her work, visit stacynhackett.vpweb.com