Coulda, woulda, shoulda — how many of us second guess ourselves, especially when it comes to the health of our pets? It’s bad enough to be confronted with an emergency situation that has an unfortunate outcome. It’s worse to think you could have done something to change it.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 25% more pets would survive injuries if only one first aid technique was applied.
This week’s Animal Cafe interview by Dr. Lorie Huston with Jillian Meyers brings that information home through a moving personal story.
The tragedy that spurred a solution
In 2007, Jillian Meyers took her dachshund, Diego, in for a routine teeth cleaning. She had a bad feeling about his condition as soon as she saw him — he seemed more lethargic than the anesthesia warranted — but she took the vet tech’s word that everything was okay.
When she got home and her father saw Diego, he confirmed Jillian’s sense that something was wrong.
By the time Jillian got Diego back to the vet’s office, it was too late. The vet worked on him for an hour, but the dachsund didn’t make it.
The creation of Healthy Paws
Looking back now, Jillian realizes that Diego had been in shock. She just didn’t trust herself enough to insist on treatment before she left the vet’s office with him.
But instead of wallowing in her pain after Diego’s death and beating herself up as many — hand raised here — would be likely to do, Jillian decided to try to prevent others from experiencing the same pain as she did. As she puts it, “I don’t want him to have died in vain.”
That’s how the Los Angeles-based Healthy Paws was born.
PetSaver™ Pet CPR, First Aid and Care Certification Classes
Jillian had known about first-aid classes for pet owners. She had just never found the time to attend one. But, she contends, a lot of pet owners are not even aware that such classes exist, even though they are becoming more and more prevalent.
Using a combination of lectures and hands-on demonstrations with stuffed animals, Jillian teaches such basic skills as how to muzzle your animal. She explains, “Animals already operate at a higher frequency than we do, they can sense panic. It’s best to practice muzzling when both of you are in a calm situation.”
Other techniques she teaches are:
- Choking management
- Assessing vital signs
- Poison prevention
But it’s not all about emergencies. According to Jillian, “The biggest walkaway skill we teach is the snout- to-tail assessment. We encourage people to do it once a week, to create a baseline with their pet. Then you can see changes and document them.”
The bottom line: The skills learned in these classes are not designed to take the place of veterinary care; they’re designed to help you get your pet to professional treatment safely.
Ok — here’s where I admit that, in spite of knowing about their importance, I haven’t taken a first-aid class. Have you?
Listen to the interview here.