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The American Red Cross, in cooperation with The Humane Society of the United States, has published a very useful handbook for pet owners on first aid care in dogs and cats. Bobbie Mammato, VeterinarianVeterinarian and author, Bobbie Mammato, DVM, MPH is an emergency/ critical care veterinarian who also has a Masters in Public Health. In addition to her duties as a part-time small animal practitioner, she is a disaster relief consultant to The Humane Society of the United States. The Red Cross book she reviews below has been lauded across the country by top veterinarians.
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Book Review

Pet First Aid - Cats and Dogs
by Bobbie Mammato, DVM, MPH

The American Red Cross, in cooperation with The Humane Society of the United States, has published a very useful handbook for pet owners on first aid care in dogs and cats.

The author, Bobbie Mammato, DVM, MPH is an emergency/critical care veterinarian who also has a Masters in Public Health. In addition to her duties as a part-time small animal practitioner, she is a disaster relief consultant to The Humane Society of the United States.

One of the first things that struck me about this book is the illustration work. The simple line drawings are expertly drawn to help with the textual description and to make a point. The book is spiral-bound, making it easy to open to a page, and have it stay open. This is important in an emergency situation.

Information is well organized, covering everything from the basics of 'how to approach a sick or injured dog or cat' to CPR, to how to build your own first aid kit. You will find a wealth of great information in between, too! Learn what is normal for your pet, how to administer various medications, how to recognize an emergency, and what dehydration looks like.

The main body of the book deals with common health problems and emergencies, and offers solid advice for taking care of your pet until a veterinarian can be seen. Smoke inhalation, collapse, lacerations, diabetic emergencies, and heat stoke are just a few of the emergency situations covered in this book. For each emergency or situation, you will learn about possible causes, the signs that the animal may be showing, first aid that should be administered until you can see your vet, any relevant tips*, and how to prevent the situation from happening.

A small section on tips for owning a healthy dog and cat concludes the book -- choosing your pet, providing daily care, traveling, and even a brief section on when to say good-bye.

I recommend this book to any pet owner, and would advise reading it thoroughly, prior to any emergency! The solid information presented here will alert pet owners to potential hazards, and may help save a pet's life should an emergency occur.

This book is attractively priced and well worth the cost. Proceeds of this book also support The American Red Cross and The Humane Society of The United States, there are two more reasons that this is a great buy for pet owners.

* For example, in the Car Accident Emergencies section - the tip relates to safer car travel when in pet carriers or special safety harnesses for dogs.

Related Reading:

Emergency Kit for Cats An emergency kit is a "must-have" to stabilize your cat before taking her to the veterinarian, or in case of a disaster.

Assembling a First Aid Kit for Dogs - List of supplies

First Aid Tips for Pets
Buy the book Take the class

Basic Supplies:
Gauze pads, gauze roll/ bandages, roll of cloth, thermometer, tweezers, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment, Q-tips, instant cold pack, rags/ rubber tubing for tourniquet, First Aid book

Handling an Injured Animal

Any animal injured or in pain can bite or scratch you. Even the friendliest of pets must be handled with care for the safety, of all involved. If you are accidentally bitten or scratched, seek medical attention. Both dog and cat bites can become infected quickly!

Vital Statistics: Pulse and Heart Rate
Normal resting rates:

Cats: 150-200 bpm
Small dogs: 90-120 bpm
Medium dogs: 70-110 bpm
Large dogs: 60-90 bpm
Pulse should be strong, regular and easy to locate.

Checking the pulse
The easiest place to locate a pulse is the femoral artery in the groin area. Place your fingers on the inside of the hind leg and slide your hand upward until the back of your fingers touches the abdomen. Gently move your fingers back and forth on the inside of the hind leg until you feel the pulsing blood. Count the number of pulses in 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. This will give you the beats per minute (bpm).

Normal temp. for dogs and cats: 100-102.5 degrees
Thermometer should be almost clean when removed.
Abnormalities are indicated by blood, diarrhea, or black, tarry stool.

Basic First Aid Procedures
All of the following situations require immediate veterinary care:

For Fractures
Muzzle animal.
Gently lay animal on a board, wooden door, tarp, etc. padded with blankets.
Secure animal to the support.
Do not attempt to set the fracture.
If a limb is broken, wrap the leg in cotton padding, then wrap with a magazine, rolled newspaper, towel or two sticks. Splint should extend one joint above the fracture and one joint below. Secure with tape. Make sure wrap does not constrict blood flow.
If the spine, ribs, hip, etc. appears injured or broken, gently place the animal on the stretcher and immobilize it if possible.

If Bleeding (external)
Muzzle animal.
Press thick gauze pad over wound. Hold firmly until clotting occurs.
If bleeding is severe, apply a tourniquet between the wound and the heart.
Loosen tourniquet for 20 seconds every 15-20 minutes.
A tourniquet is dangerous and should only be used in life-threatening hemorrhaging of a limb. It may result in amputation or disability of the limb.

If Bleeding (internal)
Symptoms: bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum; coughing blood; blood in urine; pale gums; collapse; rapid or weak pulse.
Keep animal as warm and quiet as possible.

Muzzle animal.
Flush immediately with large quantities of cold water.
Muzzle animal.
Quickly apply ice water compresses.
Treat for shock if necessary.
Symptoms: weak pulse; shallow breathing; nervousness; dazed appearance.
Often accompanies severe injury or extreme fright.
Keep animal restrained, quiet and warm.
If unconscious, keep head level with rest of body.

Restraint Methods

If your animal is injured, you must restrain him/her for your safety as well as your pet's. Muzzle your pet to restrain it unless it is unconscious, has difficulty breathing or has a mouth injury.

Speak and move calmly and quietly.
Have someone restrain the dog with a leash.
Approach dog from the side and behind its head; do not attempt to put muzzle on from the front.
Quickly slip a nylon or wire cage muzzle over nose, secure snugly behind ears.
If a muzzle is not available, you can make one from a strip of gauze, rag, necktie, belt or rope about 3 feet long.
Make a large loop in the center. Quickly slip loop over dog's nose.
Bring ends under chin. Tie snugly behind ears.

Speak and move calmly and quietly.
Have someone restrain the cat by holding the scruff of its neck firmly. This does not hurt the cat; it just prevents him/her from moving.
Working from behind the cat, quickly slip a nylon muzzle over the cat's face. The muzzle will cover most of his/her face, including the eyes. Secure snugly behind head.
If you are alone, scruff the cat with one hand and put the muzzle over the cat's face with the other. Slide both hands along muzzle straps and secure behind the head.
If a muzzle is not available, one can be made with a rag or a strip of gauze. Make sure that it is carefully placed around the cat's mouth and securely fastened, as cats can escape from these temporary muzzles.

Cats--Body Restraint
Most cats can be restrained by holding the scruff of the neck.
The "Cat Sack" can be used for fractious or very frightened cats. Slip sack over cat from tail to head, zip up appropriate zippers.
Wrap cat in a towel, making, sure his/her front legs are covered and against the body.
Gloves are not recommended for handling cats. They reduce the handler's dexterity and can easily be penetrated by a cat's teeth.


Basic First Aid Procedures
All of the following situations require immediate veterinary care.

Restrain bird by wrapping in a towel or slipping into a sock with the toe cut out.

Restrain bird by wrapping in a towel or sock, leaving leg exposed.
Splint leg with 2 pieces of adhesive tape placed perpendicular to leg across break site.
Broken "blood" feather (new feather)
Pull feather out gently; bleeding should decrease.
Press finger over removal site until bleeding stops.
Wound or broken nail
Apply pressure to site with finger(s). Bleeding should decrease.
Apply "Quick Stop" powder or styptic to stop bleeding.
Flour or cornstarch can be used in an emergency.
Puncture Wounds
Wrap bird in towel or sock.
See veterinarian: antibiotics are required to prevent infections.


Carefully wrap bird in towel, gently folding his/her wings against the body. Keep your hands out of the way of the beak.
Gloves are not recommended for bigger birds. They reduce the handler's dexterity and strong beaks can easily penetrate them.



Wrap the animal in a towel or rag, gently folding his/her legs against the body.

Get your copy of Pet First Aid today. It may be the most important purchase you can make for your pet. The purchase of this guide book helps support the disaster relief efforts of the Red Cross in your neighborhood.

A simple first aid kit

Basic supplies

Dog owners can treat minor injuries for their pets if they have the appropriate remedies, tools, and equipment available. The following items were included in a first aid kit that the Cincinnati Veterinary Medical Association gave to police dog handlers at a recent workshop. A home first aid kit needs many of the same items.

Other suggested items were: