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Learn Pet First Aid Now – Because Being Lucky Is Not A Plan

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but we’ve traveled for years with our dogs, and neither Rod nor I had any training in pet first aid or CPR. Ty and Buster have gone on all kinds of adventures – sometimes far from veterinary care – with two people who have almost no knowledge of what to do if one of them got sick or injured.

Learn Pet First Aid Now - From the Pet Travel Experts at GoPetFriendly.comEven I can’t believe how irresponsible we’ve been. Of course, all the normal excuses apply … our schedules are full, it’s difficult to locate a course, something else came up. Thankfully, our laxity hasn’t come back to bite us in the butt! But being lucky is not a plan, so I decided to make a change for the new year, and it was easier than I thought!

Over the summer, I’d bookmarked a post about Melanie Monteiro’s new online course for dog owners and pet professionals to learn dog CPR, first aid, and safety. You may know Melanie as the author of “The Safe Dog Handbook,” which has been endorsed by top veterinarians – she’s an award-winning writer, dog safety and lifestyle expert, and pet first aid instructor. I especially appreciate her precise and friendly style, and knew her course would be complete and easy to follow.

Melanie Monteiro - Dog First Aid Course

When it came down to it, setting aside one morning to prepare myself to help Ty or Buster in an emergency wasn’t hard at all. I signed into the “Dog CPR, First Aid & Safety for Pet Pros & Dedicated Owners” online course, and spent three hours obtaining a good base knowledge in the following areas:

  • How to perform pet CPR, plus life-saving first aid skills for choking, heatstroke, bleeding, car accidents, accidental poisonings and more
  • How to read a dog’s vital signs
  • How to handle encounters with aggressive dogs while out walking
  • How to spot a bloating dog
  • Which car restraints provide the best protection
  • What apps and numbers to have on your smartphone
  • How to create a dog-safe home and outdoor environment
  • How to prevent accidents and prepare for a successful outcome before an emergency happens
  • Extra precautions for puppies

The course is broken down into concise, single-topic lessons, so you can go at your own pace, and come back to it later if something comes up. Watching the video demonstrations with real dogs made everything easy to understand, and Melanie’s explanations not only of the actions to take, but also why they’re important, were especially helpful.

Melanie Monteiro - Dog First Aid Course

Afterward, I spent a couple more hours gathering information and putting it in my cell phone, downloading and familiarizing myself with some helpful apps, and adding to our first aid kit, based on this list provided in the course (reprinted here with permission):

Pet First Aid Kit Items:

1. Commercial muzzle or strip of fabric 24-36” long (to prevent biting in case of pain during treatment ONLY when there is no risk of throat/neck/breathing/vomiting injury)
2. Spare leash – slip lead style is good
3. Hydrogen Peroxide 3% USP (to induce vomiting under vet’s guidance only). This product expires so check dates & replace as needed. If opened, replace in one month.
4. Toxiban or other vet-approved activated charcoal (for use in poisoning emergencies under vet’s guidance only)
5. Oral Syringe
6. Tweezers or needle nose pliers
7. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) (use under vet’s guidance only). Check expiration dates & replace as needed.
8. Sterile saline eye & wound wash. Replace annually or after 30 days if opened.
9. Epsom salts (to make larger batch of saline solution to rinse wounds)
10. Pediatric digital rectal thermometer and water-based lubricant
11. Pop-top can of low-salt, water-packed sardines/salmon/tuna (use juice to make flavored water to hydrate pet, or mix with hydrogen peroxide when vomiting is indicated by vet)
Wound Care Items:
12. Hand sanitizer or non-latex disposable gloves
13. Antiseptic (povidone-iodine) solution, such as Betadine
14. Co-flex cohesive bandage roll (also known as Vet Wrap)
15. Antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin
16. Conforming gauze roll
17. 4 x 4 gauze pads/ non-stick bandages
18. Non-scented sanitary pad or cotton washcloths (for heavily bleeding wounds)
19. Clean cotton sock/t-shirt (for quick-wrapping wounds)
20. First aid adhesive tape
21. Grooming clippers
22. Blunt scissors
23. Duct tape
24. Styptic powder (Kwik Stop) for bleeding toenails
25. Keep a blanket/large towel, fresh water, treats and dish in your car

I also recommend getting “The Safe Dog Handbook,” for your first aid kit so you have it to reference if you need it in a crisis.

The course normally costs $60, and you have unlimited access, so you can go back and refresh your memory as often as needed. It was such a worthwhile investment to keep Ty and Buster safer as we’re traveling, I wish I’d done it long ago!

Melanie agrees that it’s important for all pet travelers to know pet first aid, so she’s provided a 30% discount to all of our readers – just use discount code GoPetFriendly when you register for the course!

Disclosure: I received the online course and book mentioned in this post free of charge. That said, we do not receive any commission or affiliate compensation on any purchases you might make based on our advice. The opinions expressed here are my own. Just mine. Unless they’re yours, too.

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  • I’m really hoping I don’t need to use it, Denise, but I feel better knowing that I’m prepared if something comes up.

  • Great ideas, Victoria and Denise!

  • Good for you, Jessica! Actually, your story about Chester getting stung was one of the reasons I decided to do this. We spend enough time hiking with the dogs, that if an accident happened, I wanted to be prepared to help the boys.

  • Yes, even a slice of white bread grasped around the toe can work :)

  • So glad to hear you’ve done this. I came online to see if you had, and there it was! Melanie Monteiro is great. I’ve taught 10,000+ pet lovers these life-saving skills over the years and more than I can count have had to jump to the task and help a pet in need…and were able to do so! They are our best friends, so we must be prepared to help. Don’t wish you HAD learned Pet First-Aid & CPCR (yes, there’s now a 2nd “C” for cerebral) — make it a new year’s resolution! Check out my tips at SunnyDogInk.com

  • Good for you. I’ve been pet firts aid certified for over 3 years now. I took a 24-hour mountain oriented first aid class in college (almost 15 years ago now. Yikes!) and am thinking of refreshing that this year. Between those two classes, I feel prepared to handle most any emergency that may arise with my husband, Chester, or Gretel.

  • Cornstarch or flour can be used in a pinch if you have no styptic.

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