Pet first aid can be a lifesaver
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Sixteen-year-old Tippy likes toys, specifically rawhide chew toys.
However, were it not for the quick thinking and wisdom of her human companion, Tricia Stoddard, her playtime would have come to an end.
When a piece of the chew toy slipped down Tippy's throat, she began to choke, Ms. Stoddard said.
"I heard this noise in the next room and it wasn't that long, but when I got there, she was already on her side with a piece lodged in her throat," Ms. Stoddard said.
Thankfully, Ms. Stoddard had recently proofed a pet first-aid brochure for the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County and knew the best thing for her to do was to begin administering the Heimlich maneuver on her pet.
"It was a scary moment. If I hadn't read that book, I wouldn't have known to continue the process even if it was already in her throat," she said.
The pet first-aid booklet distributed by the animal shelter is offered free at the animal shelter campus and at associated thrift stores, and was underwritten by Commpath, a telecommunications company based in New York, said Janet Winikoff, education director for the Humane Society.
This is the second free shelter booklet underwritten by Commpath. Two years ago, the company financed a children's guide to the Humane Society that explains how the shelter helps animals.
According to the brochure, firm pressure to a pet's ribcage or striking the rib cage firmly can sometimes help dislodge an object stuck inside a pet's throat.
"I felt very grateful that I was educated about what to do, and I was so glad to participate in something that will help other people like it did for me," Ms. Stoddard said. "The booklet is easy to read and not very lengthy".
Sebastian veterinarian Jeffrey Slade contributed to the booklet, and a Maryland-based veterinarian, Susie Duckwork, made the illustrations, Ms. Winikoff said.
The booklet reminds pet owners to check their pet's ABC's -- airway, breathing and circulation -- in case of an emergency.
In an emergency, clear a pet's airway by using a finger to sweep for debris or harmful objects. Check a pet's breathing by watching it's chest rise and fall or place a mirror in front of a pet's nose. If condensation appears, the pet is breathing. Checking for a pulse is another basic pet health check, the brochure said.
The brochure gives tips covering pet emergencies such as electric shock, external bleeding, drowning, choking, heat stroke, limping, snake bite, bee or wasp sting and vomiting.
It also provides how-to to perform CPR on various sized animals, and what normal and irregular vital signs to look for.
In each case, the tips are to help a pet owner buy a little more time on the way to see a veterinarian, Ms. Winikoff said.
"I love my animals so, so much, a lot of us do," Ms. Stoddard said. "Pet first aid knowledge is something you don't realize you are glad you have until you really need it."
For more information about the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County, call (772) 388-3331 or visit www.hsvb.org.