St. Joseph Hosts First Red Cross Dog Safety Class
When Elizabeth Lyerly, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Whispering Pines Animal Hospital, teamed with the American Red Cross for a pet first aid class at St. Joseph of the Pines Health Center, topics ranging from those least contemplated by pet owners to those most thought of, consumed the nearly three-hour event, held Wednesday, April 2.
Hosted by St. Joseph's volunteer services department, 23 dog owners, most with either the Moore County Schools Canine Assisted Reading Education (C.A.R.E.) program and/or the health care organization's assisted pet therapy activity, joined some St. Joseph associates for an informative and enlightening exchange and educational experience surrounding a wide variety of canine health issues and the factors that affect them.
Having read the American Red Cross' Dog First Aid book from cover to cover -- the most recent volume is now accompanied by a DVD -- Lyerly discussed injuries and illnesses, medical emergencies, first aid and emergency supply kits and disaster plans. Then she branched out to explore some topics that many hadn't given much consideration.
Lyerly stressed that if a dog ingests poison, and the poison label says to induce vomiting, the quickest and safest means to accomplish that is by giving the dog peroxide. Dog owners should discuss with their veterinarians the amount they can safely give their pets.
"Always keep the poison hotline numbers within reach," Lyerly says.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's number is (800) 548-2423.
"I was glued to my seat," says Carol Wilkinson, a St. Joseph and C.A.R.E. volunteer. "The class was riveting. The entire 'common sense' approach was refreshing. I wish every veterinarian had her 'bedside manner' because nothing was too trivial for her to address. Dr. Lyerly understood that our pets are family, not possessions."
Wilkinson's service/therapy dog Blue, as always, was by her side. When the Red Cross' manikin, or "dogikin" as the case may be, would not suffice for a hands-on demonstration, Blue filled in, unwittingly but effectively.
The American Red Cross held its initial pet first aid class about a year ago.
"We purchased CasPeR the CPR dog manikin and a video on performing CPR on a dog," says Meg Finnin, office manager, American Red Cross Moore County Chapter. "At that time participants received a Pet First Aid Manual. The book was useful, but the new Dog First Aid kits with DVDs are even better."
Buddy Spong, director of the Moore County Chapter of the American Red Cross, knew that the many pet owners in Moore County would find the information in the kit and hands-on approach in the classes valuable. "Buddy wanted to offer that class to various community groups, and the group at St. Joseph of the Pines was the first to hear the new "Dog First Aid" presentation," says Finnin. "As a cherished member of the family, it is important to know what to do if our pet is ever injured or has a medical emergency. To help every member of the family be safer, the American Red Cross has released its new Dog First Aid book with a companion DVD to assist families in the care of their pets -- focusing on their wellness and how to prepare for and respond to emergencies."
She says the book and DVD offers an indispensable guide for pet owners. The American Red Cross assembled a skilled team of veterinary, safety and emergency preparedness professionals to develop a book that covers many aspects of a dog's physical and mental well-being.
"Among the many topics covered is treating common ailments, aid for choking, performing CPR, building a pet first aid kit and recognizing emergency situations," she says. "Dog First Aid also demonstrates how easy it is to include your pet in the family's emergency preparedness plan."
At the onset of the class, Lyerly stressed the importance of keeping a crate for each dog in the household.
"In a Katrina-like situation, emergency workers can't stack dogs one on top of another, but they sure can stack crates containing the family pets," she says. "Attach your phone number and any medication the dog may be on."
The class learned safe and effective ways to make and use restraining devices as well as how many milligrams of liquid or soft gel cap Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to administer to a dog having an anaphylactic reaction to a snake or insect bite.
The subject matter surrounding heat and hyperthermia shed light on several symptoms, diagnosis and corrective actions. Valerie Dattilo, the MDS coordinator at St. Joseph of the Pines, said she took a number of important details home with her after the class.
"Regarding heat stroke, I never knew what a normal temperature of a dog was, and that once it comes down to 103 you stop cooling the dog because the temp will continue to come down," she says.
Dattilo says the command to "leave it" also struck her.
"I have a new puppy and a diabetic husband. If he dropped a pill and the dog got a hold of it -- well, that could be very serious," she says. "The tip to buy a kennel in case of an emergency was great because it made a lot of sense that a rescuer can stack kennels but not dogs. The administration of Benadryl was also new to me.
"Living here, you never know what's around. I will put together a first aid kit this weekend. I shared the information with my son-in-law, who has a new puppy."
During the class many eyes opened wide when Lyerly related her own experiences with, not only emergency situations, but general every day occurrences. Plenty of the participants confessed they matter-of-factly offered ice cubes and some sort of hard bones to their dogs to chew on. After Lyerly explained the number of broken teeth she's seen from the above practices, there are sure to be a number of dogs that will now be deprived of those items.
A lot of veterinarians and dog trainers denounce the use of rawhide bones as chew toys. In addition, the class learned from Lyerly that she never gives a dog a basted rawhide bone.
"They can carry salmonella," she says.
Finally, the tail end of the first aid class touched on tick diseases and prevention, Omega 3, 6 and 9 supplements, recognizing seizures and drowning, and administrating cardio pulmonary respiration.
"The dog first aid class offered by the Red Cross is a must for dog owners. The new book and CD is a good reference tool to have on hand," says Wilkinson.
To inquire on hosting a class or to purchase the book/CD combination for $20, or the first aid kit for $25, call Meg Finnin at the American Red Cross in Southern Pines at (910) 692-8571.
Jeralie Andrews is the volunteer director at St. Joseph of the Pines.
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