The Importance of Knowing Pet First Aid and CPR


Pet CPR Demonstration

April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month, and what better time to talk about the importance of knowing what to do if an emergency occurred with your pet? Owning a pet can add much joy and fun to your family, but along with it comes the responsibility for your pet’s safety and well-being. Your furry friend is not just an animal, they are a much loved member of the family and you are their guardian. Certainly it is important to provide your pet with good quality food, fresh water, a comfy place to sleep, regular vet exams, up to date vaccinations, and lots of love. But one other very important thing you can do to help them lead a long and healthy life is to take a Pet First Aid and CPR class.

When you have a furry family member, chances are you don’t think much about something going wrong, such as a sudden illness or injury. But as with any family member, accidents can and do happen. It has been estimated that 92% of all pets will experience some type of emergency situation during their lifetime, and up to 60% of animal hospital visits are emergency in nature. Moreover, preventable accidents are the leading cause of death among pre-senior dogs and cats. There is probably no worse feeling for a pet owner than seeing their furry family member injured and hurting, and not knowing what to do to help them. If your pet suddenly began to choke on a toy, ate something toxic, was hit by a car, had a seizure, chewed through an electrical cord and was shocked, had an allergic reaction to a bee sting,was bleeding from a laceration, or suffered frostbite or heatstroke, would you know what to do in those first critical moments following the accident? Unfortunately you can‘t call 911 when your pet is ill or injured. You have to be their first responder!!

According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 1-out-of-4 or 25% more pets would survive if just one pet first aid technique was applied prior to getting emergency veterinary care. Knowing the skills and techniques of pet first aid and CPR can mean the difference between a temporary and permanent disability for your pet, between a quick recovery and a long recuperation, between expensive veterinary bills and reasonable home care, and possibly even between life and death!

A good Pet First Aid class will teach you not just CPR and first aid skills, but also how to recognize potentially dangerous situations so that you can take steps to help prevent your pet from becoming ill or injured. You will also gain a better awareness of your pet’s well-being by learning how to perform routine examinations and assessments of every part of your pet’s body, including how to check their vital signs such as heart rate, breathing, temperature, and capillary refill time. Unfortunately your pet cannot tell you when something is wrong or they are not feeling well. Becoming familiar with what is “normal” for your pet will better enable you to detect warning signs indicating that something is not right and warrants a trip to the veterinarian. As with any member of the family, detecting a medical condition early makes it more likely that it can be treated promptly and before it becomes serious.

Having the knowledge and skills a Pet First Aid and CPR class provides will help you to prepare for and remain calm during an emergency. Think of it as an insurance policy: you hope you will never need to use it, but it will give you the confidence and peace of mind that comes with knowing you will be able to help your pet in an emergency.

By Karen Sable,  Owner of Pet Emergency Training, LLC

Karen is a Pet Tech® Instructor, and a trained responder with several national and local animal emergency response teams. Karen provides Pet First Aid and CPR classes in the Greater Pittsburgh and Western PA Area. If you would like to attend one of her Pet CPR and First Aid classes, the following are currently scheduled in the Pittsburgh area:May 18 (11am-3:30pm) at Animal Friends.

For more information about the classes and how to register, as well as updates to the class schedule, please visit Karen’s website at:


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