You grab your pet and run out of your house as fast as you can, but when you get outside you realize your pet isn’t breathing. No one is around and you don’t have a cell phone to call for help, so what do you do?
This week a New Bedford firefighter, Al Machado, rescued a cat from a burning building by performing mouth to snout resuscitation. In another house fire in Gillette, Wyoming that occurred last week, over 50 pets were not so lucky. By the time firefighters arrived at the scene, the animals inside the home died due to smoke inhalation. Emergencies happen but your pet might have a better chance of survival if you know some basic first aid tips. Performing CPR and rescue breaths on an animal is different than when you perform it on a person, but if you remember your ABCs you will have no problem learning.
First, check the Airway to see if there is food, toys or any other objects in the animal’s mouth. If a foreign object is in its mouth, lay the animal on its side, open its mouth, gently pull its tongue out, and take the object out with your fingers. Be aware that conscious animals could bite you.
Second, check to see if your pet is Breathing. Let the animal breathe on its own if able, otherwise close the animal’s mouth with your hands and perform rescue breaths by blowing four or five rapid breaths into your pet’s nose. Rescue breaths should only be performed for a maximum of 20 minutes, which can give you some time to get to a veterinarian or animal hospital. However, your pet might be able to breath on its own after a couple rounds of rescue breaths.
Third, if rescue breaths fail to work, check if your pet has a heartbeat or pulse. The pulse of a dog or cat can be felt around their fifth rib, which is approximately where their left elbow touches their chest. You should make sure you can find your pet’s pulse before an emergency occurs. Lay the pet on its side so its chest is facing you. Place your hand under your pet’s elbow (where you find its pulse) and place your other hand underneath your pet so you are holding your pet under its arms. Compress the chest ½ to 1 inch five times (three times if you have another person breathing) then perform a rescue breath. After each breath, check your pet’s pulse and start again with the compressions. Three to five compressions are used for pets under 30 pounds. Five compressions are used for pets between 30 and 90 pounds, and ten compressions are used for pets over 90 pounds.
It’s also valuable to know what your pet’s normal temperature and mucus color is, which is why it’s convenient to keep a pet first aid manual somewhere easily accessible in your home. Basic safety tips can help you take care of your pet if they have burns, allergies, nose bleeds, dehydration, blood sugar issues, etc.