By: Nadine Banks
I knew nothing about first aid for animals when I discovered my cat, Jill, overheated and disoriented in an attic crawl space, unable to stand upright. It was early July—the hottest time of the year—and in typical cat-curious fashion, she had pried open two doors to sneak up in there. I rushed her to a veterinary hospital, where she spent most of a week…and ended up becoming the most expensive thing I own.
You want your pets to be happy and healthy, and you probably don’t have a veterinary degree. That’s where the Red Cross can help: It offers an online Pet First Aid course at redcross.org/catdogfirstaid. Follow step-by-step instructions on such topics as checking vital signs, basic CPR, handling breathing emergencies, and wound and preventive care. The course takes about a half hour, but if Paw McCatney walks across your keyboard or Sir Barksalot knocks the laptop off your lap, you can simply restart the course whenever and wherever you want to.
Hopefully you won’t need immediate answers, but if you do, there’s an app for that. Download the free Red Cross app Pet First Aid in one of three ways: Text GETPET to 90999, go to redcross.org/apps, or search ‘American Red Cross’ in app stores. Select dog or cat, your concern or issue—such as allergic reactions, burns, seizures or smoke inhalation—and get advice on the spot. Learn what supplies to keep on hand in case of emergencies, and store your pet’s and veterinarian’s information. You can even find pet-friendly hotels.
Jill likely would have still ended up in the hospital, but had I known about using cool towels and spray to deal with heat exhaustion, I could have made both of us more comfortable and less stressed until she got there. Preparedness is key. That’s what the Red Cross is all about.