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First aid course teaches CPR and more for pets


Reported by Cheryl Whiting

Instructor teaching a pet first aid course at St. John Ambulance in South Vancouver. Photo by Cheryl Whiting.

Most first aid courses focus on helping humans, but St. John Ambulance in South Vancouver is offering a first aid course focusing on pets.

The course is held every month. Martin Dodds, a paramedic, first aid attendant, and volunteer with Small Animal Rescue, has been teaching the course for two years. The training is for any guardian of a domestic animal, however most of the participants have cats and dogs.

“There’s no real 911 for pets. There are vets that you can call that are emergency lines but they’re not always available,” Dodds said.

Students will learn the basics on how to save their pets life

By the end of the course, participants will know how to do CPR and deal with choking, bleeds, and fractures. Preventive measures such as pet proofing the house are also covered. Dodds uses a special plastic dog equipped with a pulse to teach the course.

Pamela Germano is taking the course because she is opening a dog walking business.

“I’ll be around a lot of other dogs, and walking dogs, you never now what could happen,” Germano said.

Dr. Hakam Bhullar, a veterinarian at Atlas Animal Hospital in Vancouver, has hosted a radio show to educate the public about pet care. He worries that someone without any veterinary background teaches the course.

“For example, dogs can’t eat chocolate. Also they won’t tell you they have nausea-for that you have to have a vet to diagnose it. So it depends on what kind of training they’re giving.”

Instructor at St. John Ambulance demonstrating how to give CPR to a dog.
Instructor at St. John Ambulance demonstrates how to give CPR to a dog. Photo by Cheryl Whiting.

First aid kits are for animals too

Dodds said anyone could make a first aid kit for their pet.

“If you’ve got a first aid kit think about the stuff you’d need specifically for the pet and just add to it so you can use it for everybody in your house.”

A rep from St. John Ambulance said that the paramedics have basic training, none of which is specific to animals.

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