Wednesday, 29 October 2008

ICAWC 2008: Workshops - First Aid for Dogs & Cats by Catherine Gillie

Catherine Gillie is the Assistant Field Director at Dogs Trust, and oversees the work of our centres in her area. Her discussion will centre on the aims of first aid as well as the techniques. This blog will cover the highlights but you'll really need to attend a session to get a proper overview. Please keep refreshing the page to see the latest updates. You can also find more information on Dogs Trust's website.

3:15: Catherine introduces her lovely assistant, Dogs Trust's Steve Goward, who is a training and behavioural specialist at Dogs Trust Roden. There won't be dog assistants here, it's too stressful, but delegates will test out techniques on each other.

Catherine covers the main aims of first aid which are to:
  • Preserve life
  • Prevent suffering
  • Prevent the situation deteriorating
  • Promote recovery
  • Protect personal safety
Personal safety is the first priority because injured animals will be frightened and can be dangerous. Plus, look at the situation; if the animal's been run over, electrocuted or burned, are you at risk from the same in the current context?

The first thing to do is call for help. Then, assess the situation and think about your own safety.

3:20: Moving an injured animal might open you to bites, so Catherine demonstrates a tape muzzle for emergency situations where there's no other option, or where applying a muzzle might have associations that increase the stress in the circumstances.

3:25: Cats are trickier than dogs. Wrapping a cat in a towel will often help; if the wounded area can be kept exposed and treated then that's great, but the more effective course can sometimes be to wrap the cat up safely and head straight for a vet.

3:30: Catherine moves on to talk about the conscious and unconscious nervous system and the way this can affect the nature of the immediate treatment. Of course it's also a way to check for likely aggressive responses. You're of little help to the animal if you end up hospitalised because of bites, so you must think of yourself first for both your sakes. There are ways of testing reflexes to establish if the animal is alive or dead, conscious or unconscious.

We're now looking at a diagram of the respiratory and circulatory systems. Suddenly GCSE biology lessons about oxygenated and deoxygenated blood are coming back to me! Catherine's tour of animal physiology also goes on to cover the digestive system.

3:45: Having given a short overview of the reproductive system, Catherine turns to Stephen and the two discuss the medical and behavioural ramifications of neutering. The overall consensus is that the health benefits are obvious and very important. The behaviour considerations are more open-ended and open to discussion.

Catherine moves on to demonstrate recovery position, artificial respiration and heart massage. If you have established that a dog (or cat) is unconscious, it is worth checking that the tongue has not accidentally been swallowed - pulling that out (or, if the dog is small enough, tipping the head forward and using gravity to help 'knock' a blockage out gently but firmly, supporting the head) can be the lifesaving move. If you're worried the dog might be conscious enough to bite by reflex, try shielding your fingers under the dog's gums as you ease the mouth open. The dog will feel the bite itself and quickly open its mouth.

CPR is very similar to that in humans, only closing the muzzle and blowing into the nose. With the animal preferably on the right side, the hands are clasped together and there are three breaths into the nose - from a tiny puff for a puppy to a harder blow for a Great Dane - for every 15 heart compressions as a rough guide.

4:00: Catherine also demonstrates useful vet lifts - how to lift or hold, and calm, a dog and cat for an examination. This is best seen rather than described! She advocates using some of the techniques from the T Touch at the same time to help the situation if the animal is stressed.

4:15: A quick overview of signs of internal bleeding, and it's almost at the practical stage! Bandages and other props have been set out on each table, and each delegate will get a chance to practice a technique.


Excited your interest? A hands-on basic first aid course can make all the difference in they way you care for animals - or even respond if you happen to come across a freak accident. If you have the opportunity to attend a demonstration or learn more, I highly recommend it!

1 comment:

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