Would you perform CPR on your Pet?

In a medical emergency, would you perform CPR on your pet? Would you be willing to begin mouth-to-snout resuscitation — your mouth over his closed snout — to revive your dying dog or cat?

In a poll conducted by the Associated Press and Petside.com, 63 percent of dog owners and 53 percent of cat owners say they would “very likely” give CPR to their pet. And women were more likely than men (65 percent vs. 50 percent) to do it.

While a majority of pet owners might be ready to save their pet’s life, most also admit they aren’t well-prepared to prevent an emergency from happening: 80 percent of pet owners don’t have a pet first-aid kit; 54 percent don’t have a home-fire evacuation plan for their pet; 68 percent let their pets ride in vehicles unrestrained; and 59 percent said they “don’t consider” or “give little consideration” to their pet’s safety when decorating for the holidays.

Hmm, maybe these should be the actual questions on an adoption questionnaire.

As a former American Red Cross pet first-aid instructor, students have shared with me how knowing pet first aid and CPR has saved lives. A vet tech once told me about a dog at her clinic that suddenly stopped breathing. The veterinarian was out of the office, so she started CPR and was overjoyed when the dog started breathing again. Another student said knowing how to handle her dog’s rattlesnake bite (no tourniquets please) kept her from panicking on a hike.

My favorite CPR story, though, involved a co-worker at the humane society many years ago who had just taken the pet first-aid class. She walked into the clinic and saw a lifeless hamster in a small see-through carrier. She thought the hamster had just died so she began blowing gently into his nostrils and using her finger to palpate his chest. She did this for several minutes until another co-worker informed her that the hamster had been dead on arrival. So no luck there, but wow! How many of us would have performed CPR on a hamster? I guess if you feel prepared you are ready for anything.

If you want to feel better prepared, the American Red Cross has a pet first-aid book that provides directions and illustrations for most pet emergencies. The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Web site at www.avma.org/firstaid/ offers several pet first-aid articles and a list of items for a pet first-aid kit.

I hope you’ll be lucky and never have a pet emergency. But the poll revealed that 41 percent of you will indeed make a trip to the pet emergency room at some point in your pet’s life: 17 percent because your pet was attacked by another animal; 16 percent because your dog will have an allergic reaction to something; 15 percent because your pet got into or ate holiday decorations; and 11 percent because your pet was hit by a car.

Will you be ready to help them?

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