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Pet First Aid Training Can Help Save Animal’s Life

April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month and the American Red Cross has classes available that can help pet owners keep their animals safe and healthy.

PET FIRST AID courses are available at many Red Cross chapters that teach pet owners what to do in an emergency. Pet owners who have taken these classes credit them with giving them the skills they needed to save their pet’s life. Here are some of their stories:

Sammy is a ten-year-old West Highland Terrier whose love for table scraps almost proved his undoing. Recently he snatched a large piece of meat that had fallen on the kitchen floor and gulped it down before his owner, Sharon, could grab it. Sammy was struggling to swallow the meat, and couldn’t get any air. “It was awful,” Sharon said. “He wasn’t inhaling or exhaling. His heart was racing.” She lifted his hind quarters with his head down and gave him five blows to the back. Sharon lifted the dog up against her and gave him upward abdominal thrusts, followed by some back blows. She was successful and the meat was dislodged from Sammy’s throat. “Sammy would have died if I had done nothing,” Sharon said. “Thanks for the training. I highly recommend the Pet First Aid class to all pet owners and those who take care of pets.”

When Karla Toppen had her staff trained in Dog First Aid, she never expected they would actually need to use the training. Boo and Hobbes were doggie friends who loved to play together. They never played too rough and always had fun. On one particular day, however, a small accident happened that almost ended in tragedy. The two dogs were playing when Hobbs got his mouth caught on Boo’s collar. The dogs couldn’t get loose. The staff recognized the problem and intervened right away. Meanwhile Hobbes panicked and started twisting. The more he twisted the tighter Boo’s collar got. Finally, they were able to separate them, but when they did, Boo was not moving. Karla and another staff member immediately started CPR and rescue breathing and after a few minutes, Boo revived. The veterinarian said their help had saved Boo’s life. “Thankfully we were prepared,” Karla said.

Sammy’s owner saved him when he choked on a piece of meat Boo stopped breathing while playing with his buddy, Hobbes.

PET FIRST AID DVDS The Red Cross has also developed Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid Guides with DVDs that teach basic responsibilities like spaying/neutering and giving medications, to performing CPR and preparing for disasters. Visit to see when classes are available. The Guides are available through your local Red Cross chapter or you can visit the Red Cross Store.

Pet First Aid Awareness Month is a great time for people to learn how to protect their pet and keep them healthy. More information on how to keep pets in good health is located on the Red Cross Pets and Disaster Safety Checklist.