Ramona the puppy was fitted with a cast shortly after her arrival at MSPCA. Credit: MSPCA-Angell
With freezing New England temperatures and the unpredictable behavior of pets, animal lovers can have a tough time caring for their furry family members.
To put lifesaving information in the hands of cat and dog owners, the Red Cross launched the Pet First Aid app on Wednesday to help animal caretakers provide emergency care until veterinary assistance is available.
"We understand the important emotional role that pets play in the lives of families, and this tool helps pet owners learn how to recognize health problems and when to contact the veterinarian,” said Leighton Jones, chief disaster officer of the American Red Cross of Massachusetts.
“This new app provides step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid and emergency situations including how to treat wounds, control bleeding, and care for breathing and cardiac emergencies.”
Topics also include burns, car accidents, falls and what to do for cold- and heat-related emergencies.
Other features in the app allow pet owners to:
• Create a pet profile including tag identification number, photos, list of medications and instructions. • Use the list of early warning signs to learn when to call their veterinarian. • Use “click-to-call” to contact their veterinarian. • Find emergency pet care facilities or alternate veterinarians with an animal hospital locator. • Locate pet-friendly hotels. • Test their knowledge with interactive quizzes and earn badges that they can share on their social networks along with their favorite pictures of their pet.
“I have no doubt that learning more about common emergencies — from exposure to cold, accidental poisoning and broken limbs — will empower pet owners with the information they need to save their pet,” said Dr. Kiko Bracker of Angell Animal Medical Center, which sees upwards of 75 pet emergencies every day in its critical care center.
“I applaud the American Red Cross of Massachusetts for its efforts to put this vital information into the hands of every pet owner — and I encourage pet owners to take the app’s quiz to learn as much as they can about common emergencies and how they can be treated.”
Historically, people have refused to evacuate during disasters because they did not want to leave their pets behind, according to the Red Cross. The new app also includes resources to help owners include pets in their emergency action plans.
Pet owners may also take a Red Cross Pet First Aid course so they can practice the skills and receive feedback. Go to redcross.org/takeaclass for information and to register.