Why Learn Pet First Aid and CPR?

By Cara Armour, contributing writer

You can search the Internet for pretty much everything now, heck you can even watch YouTube videos on how to fix a car or in fact perform CPR on your pet. While these options exist, they are not long-term learning platforms where you watch a vet teach you the techniques, practice what is being taught and then get tested on your retention.

While online learning has been proven by the US Department of Education to be a more effective way to learn, it’s only as good as the actual material, mode of presentation and instructor. YouTube videos are fine and dandy but is that information correct?

Learning how to save your pet’s life and knowing how to react when something is wrong is crucial to anyone that spends their life with pets. This includes pet owners and pet care professionals such as dog walkers, pet sitters, trainers, groomers, dog daycare operators and even vet techs. Did you know that vet techs – the nurses of the veterinary field are never taught cat or dog CPR in their training to become a certified veterinary technician? Crazy right?

You Care Enough to Know How to Save Them


You’re reading this post so you are already intrigued about knowing what to do. It is pretty easy to just dash off to the ER vet, or even your regular vet. I can get an appointment for my dog or cat much faster and easier then I can for myself at my own doctor’s office. That is wonderful but sometimes the added stress and cost of being able to do that isn’t always the best for you or your pet – certainly not your wallet.

The Cost of Veterinary Care

pet-insuranceEven with pet insurance the cost of veterinary care is no joke. Depending on your insurance coverage (if you have it), you may still have to pay a good portion of the bill. Pet insurance does not work the same as human coverage – you pay up front, submit the claim, then wait for reimbursement; with monthly premiums this can all add up.

Please do not get me wrong, you are going to the vet for many issues, this is not to dissuade anyone from going and in fact the course teaches you about knowing when to go and what information to have to help the vet help your pet. Knowing when to go or even more importantly, what you can do before you head to the vet can be crucial for your pet’s survival.

The Big Picture of a Pet First Aid and CPR Certification Course

The title of the course doesn’t even begin to sum up the vast skills and knowledge that you will learn. Beyond the sheer volume of over 40 topics you will also learn what to do, what to look out for, and how to act.

If you are going to take the time to learn how to keep your pet safe or recognize issues before they become more serious – most importantly, get their heart beating again when it stops – then you will want to make certain you are learning the life-saving information from a qualified person.

Who Teaches Me How to Save My Pet in an Emergency?

Credentials are extremely important; I wouldn’t want to take a cooking class from someone that has never cooked, so why take a class about pet CPR from someone that has never used it to save lives? ProPetHero is an online cat and dog first aid and CPR certification course taught by a board certified ER vet, Dr. Bobbi Conner DVM, DACVECC.  She also happens to be a professor of veterinary medicine and critical care; so she’s saved a few hundred lives in her life and she teaches up-and-coming vets how to do the same.

cat-dog-first-aidIt’s important to have the right tools in your toolbox; or in this case first aid kit. I hope you never have to use them but in my 30 + years of sharing my life with pets and working with them, I’ve used the skills and knowledge more than I would have liked.

So for less than a night out and less than most wellness exams you can learn from an ER vet on how to help your pet. There are no animal EMT’s so your pet depends on you. Even if you just learn when to recognize when something is not right because you paid attention to when it was – you are on your way to making your pet’s life better.

A typical vet visit is 20 minutes, don’t you wish you had more time to learn from them, now you do and for a lot less than the time it would take! So set aside a little time, the course is under 2 hrs but you can take it in bite-sized chunks. It always remembers where you left off so you can take it at your own pace and place that is most convenient for you. After you complete the learning you’ll have the confidence to act in an emergency and take the best care of your pet. You have 2 years access to review the videos to keep the information fresh in your mind and have the correct information at your fingertips.


Author Bio

Cara Armour

In 2003, Cara Armour co-founded Active Paws Inc., a professional pet care business based in the greater Boston, MA area that has expanded to grooming and operating a holistic pet supply store. Cara won Pet Sitter of the Year, the industry’s highest honor awarded by Pet Sitters International and collected many other accolades over the years.

Since 2003, Cara has been trained by the American Red Cross as well as several veterinarians in Pet First Aid and CPR. In 2011 she completed an instructor training course and became a certified pet 1st Aid and CPR instructor. When she found the training online by an ER veterinarian, she decided to join the ProPetHero team, the pet first aid and CPR division of ProTrainings. She is also a volunteer and foster home for The Boxer Rescue Inc, a health conscious breeder of Boxers, as well as an active member of several kennel clubs. She has been a mentor to many in the pet industry as well as those in the small business world.

Cara spends her free time traveling to agility, lure coursing and conformation trials. When not at a trial or finding a good home for a Boxer through the rescue, she’s training with her pups or playing in her garden.

Real or Fake — What Difference Does it Make?

By Marianne McKiernan, author of Let the Dogs Speak!
We are a nation of pet lovers. According to the American Pet Products Association, in 2015 65% of U.S. households owned a pet, and we spent over $60 billion on pet care. In particular, 54 million households owned upwards of 77 million dogs. Now, most of those dogs are happily hanging out in the yard, snoozing on the sofa, romping at the dog park or keeping a wary eye on the cookie jar. A disturbing trend among some dog owners, however, is to feel that Fluffy is somehow unfulfilled in canine pursuits at home, and must accompany her human on all excursions, including the grocery, the mall, the movie theater, a restaurant, and even an airplane. 
“I need Fluffy,” the owner explains. “She’s my (fill in the blank) emotional support dog/service dog/therapy dog. And look, I bought a vest online so they have to let her be with me.”
GRRR. My hackles rise, my redheaded temper flares. Allow me to explain why.
First, a little background. I am a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence (cci.org), the nation’s oldest service dog organization. Along with my husband, I am currently raising Dubarry, my 11th puppy. Puppy raisers receive the pups at 8 weeks and keep them for 15-18 months. During that time we teach the pups around 30 basic commands and socialize them, gradually introducing them to pubic settings. When the puppies are around 18 months old we return them to our regional training center (there are six nationwide) for advanced training with professional trainers for another 6-9 months. If the dog has “the right stuff” it is matched with a person with a disability (other than blindness – guide dogs are a different type of assistance dog). One of the things I admire about CCI is that only the dogs who love to work graduate. Even if a dog is magnificently trained, if it is unhappy as a working dog, the trainers will release it from the program. This is one reason why only 35-40% of the pups in training go on to graduate. A stressed, unhappy dog is not a safe partner, and the safety of the graduate team is always CCI’s top priority.
An assistance dog has public access because of the person it is assisting. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is legally defined as a dog (or a miniature horse, but we’re sticking with dogs here) that has been individually trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability, such as guiding, warning of an impending drop in blood sugar, turning on/off lights, retrieving dropped items, opening/closing doors, alerting to sounds, etc. The tasks the dog performs must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Someone who has bought a vest, and so-called “credentials” (under the ADA there is no such thing as credentials or a service dog registry) off the internet for the purpose of taking a pet to public places is presenting himself as disabled. Some states have passed laws making it a crime to misrepresent a pet as a service dog. 
Emotional support animals (ESA) may be used to relieve stress or help with depression and anxiety, but they have not been trained to perform tasks to assist persons with disabilities. ESAs are not considered service animals under the ADA and do not have public access rights. However, ESAs are allowed in apartments under the Fair Housing Act, and the landlord may request documentation. Some airlines will allow a passenger to fly with an ESA and may ask for documentation. “Examples of documentation that may be requested by the airline: Current documentation (not more than one year old) on letterhead from a licensed mental health professional stating (1) the passenger has a mental health-related disability listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV); (2) having the animal accompany the passenger is necessary to the passenger’s mental health or treatment; (3) the individual providing the assessment of the passenger is a licensed mental health professional and the passenger is under his or her professional care; and (4) the date and type of the mental health professional’s license and the state or other jurisdiction in which it was issued.”  (https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet
But why is it such a big deal, you ask. Why can’t Fluffy go to the store or the restaurant or on the airplane? She’s really good and she loves going with me.
First of all, Fluffy may not want to go. Poor Fluffy, who would rather be at home on your comfy bed, is possibly terrified out of her mind, shaking and whimpering. What you think is an excited, happy dog may in fact be a highly stressed, anxious dog. It takes puppy raisers over a year of training with our puppies to work up to busy, distracting environments such as grocery stores, restaurants and airports. Our dogs have to learn to be calm, quiet and exceptionally well-mannered, no matter what is going on around them. Something tasty on the floor? Leave it. Another dog in the area? Ignore it. People making kissy noises at the puppy? Sit and wait for permission to be petted. Weird noises, long security lines, TSA agents with gloves handing the puppy? Stay calm, wait for the next command. No barking, no whining, no lunging, no picking fights with other dogs, no sitting on chairs, tables, grocery carts or laps, no chewing, no hoovering, no accidents, no shedding — oh, wait. We can’t teach them not to shed. But we can teach them everything else. A puppy raiser’s favorite compliment is “I didn’t even know you had a dog!” Service dogs are meant to be unobtrusive as they quietly do their jobs. 
((And as a side note, let me tell you about flying with a dog. Some airlines kindly allow puppy raisers to fly with their pups in the cabin. This is important because I do not want my dog’s first flight to be with his new partner. Flying is stressful, with all the hullabaloo at the airport, elevators, different surfaces to walk on, trains and shuttles, rolling suitcases, crying babies, security lines, etc. As many times as I’ve flown with well-trained pups over the last 15 years, I’m always a little uneasy. Therefore I want my pups to have at least a couple of flights under their collars before they graduate (if they graduate!) so that their partner has confidence that the dog can handle it. Not only do we have to navigate the airport, but once we board the plane my pup is expected to curl up in the small bulkhead space or under the seat in front of me, and stay there for the duration of the flight. Not every dog is going to be happy about doing that. Every pup I’ve flown with has given me a look that clearly says “You have got to be kidding!” when I give him the command to curl up in the small space under the seat. But they sigh, and they do it. I can’t imagine putting an untrained dog through the stress of flying, much less expecting it to behave perfectly.)) 
Second, fake service dogs jeopardize real working dogs and their partners. I’ve heard so many stories from graduates about their dogs being attacked by other “service dogs” or being asked to leave a store because the last “service dog” pooped all over the floor, or having to explain to the restaurant manager that yes, this is a real service dog, and no, he will not bother the other diners, steal food or climb on the table. Every time a fake service dog causes a problem, it complicates and compromises access for real service dog teams. Business owners and the public begin to look at all dogs in public settings as nuisances. Someone with a disability just wants to go about their life; questioning and/or endangering their legitimate service dog’s right to accompany and assist them should not be part of the daily routine. 
Real service dogs help their partners live independent lives. Fake service dogs are at best a ridiculous indulgence, and at worst, a crime. Please don’t buy a vest and pretend your pet is a service dog. After all, Fluffy already has an important job: being your adored companion, protector and stealer of cookies. 
Additional information:
Marianne McKiernan has been a volunteer puppy raiser for CCI since October, 2001. She is the author of Let the Dogs Speak! Puppies in Training Tell the Story of Canine Companions for Independence. She lives in Denver with her husband, two cats, two pet dogs and current CCI puppy, Dubarry.