A half-dozen owners got trained in how to care for their injured or sick dogs Sunday at the Medina Park District’s Wolf Creek Environmental Center.
The K9 First Aid course was taught by Martin Warchola, of the Best Paws Forward Dog Training Academy, Medina.
Warchola, who teaches everything from basic dog obedience courses to training dogs for search and rescue operations, said the course is designed to make owners more comfortable in administering first aid to their pets.
“The whole idea isn’t that we don’t want you to take your dog to the vet, but so you can be confident in giving them care on the way there,” he said.
The course covered topics ranging from caring for cuts and burns to administering cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on a pet.
Warchola uses a training dummy nicknamed “Casper” so participants could practice their CPR technique, which includes chest compressions and “mouth-to-snout” resuscitation.
Just like in regular first aid, you should check the ABCs — make sure the airway is clear, check to see if the animal is breathing and check the heartbeat as gauge of how well the circulatory system is working — before performing CPR.
The techniques are similar to those used in CPR for people, but vary slightly depending on the size of the dog and whether two people are available to administer CPR or if only one person is completing the task alone.
Warchola recommends using a muzzle before treating your pet for cuts or broken bones.
“Even a dog that doesn’t normally bite might bite you if they’re scared or in pain,” he said.
After showing participants how to make a muzzle out of a basic leash he recommended that owners put a muzzle on their animals for a few minutes every so often to get the animal used to it. It’s also good for the owners to practice the technique.
“You don’t want to put a muzzle on them for the first time after they’re already hurt,” he said. “It could make them more upset.”
Phyllis Walker, who owns a 4-year-old Jack Russell terrier/Pekinese mix said she knew about many of the basic first aid techniques, but had never thought to use a muzzle for her own protection.
“I’m going to have to try that out at home, it’s a good idea,” she said.
Warchola also gave owners tips and techniques for being prepared for an emergency.
He recommends everyone purchase a first aid kit specifically for their dog. It should include a leash that can be used as a muzzle, thermometer, hydrogen peroxide, sterile eye wash for treating eye injury and irritation, and vet wrap to help wrap and secure bandages on an injured animal.
He also recommends owners test their animals when they’re feeling healthy to find out what the normal heart rate, breathing rate and temperatures are for their pet.
“You want to know, for example, if your dog’s normal temperature is around 102 degrees, if it drops to around 100 degrees, while that’s still in the normal range, it might be low for your dog,” he said.
A healthy dog temperature ranges between 100 and 102.5 degrees. Most dogs take between 10 and 20 breaths per minute, and the average heart rate for dogs is between 60 and 140 beats per minute, though puppies tend to have a higher heart rate.
Charts to keep track of pet information and medications were handed out by Warchola to those who participated in the Sunday course. He also recommended owners write down the numbers of emergency veterinarians to have on the refrigerator or near the phone.
“You want to get those numbers ready ahead of time,” he said. “You don’t want to be searching around for it when there’s an emergency.”