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New online course teaches pet first aid

By Katherine Unger Baillie Published: Sep 7, 2017

First-AidYou may know CPR, but do you know how to give it to your cat?

A new online course from the American Red Cross, developed with the expertise of Deborah Mandell, an emergency and critical care veterinarian at the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Ryan Hospital, will teach people pet CPR and other animal life-saving skills. The course, which costs $25 and takes about 30 minutes to complete, gives users a basic overview of a variety of health care topics about dogs and cats, from how to take a pet’s vital signs to emergency planning.

“For me, one of the most important things is that the owners know what is normal for their pet, so that they can tell when something is abnormal. It is also important that owners know how to perform CPR on their pets,” says Mandell. “This course can help owners determine whether or not their pet is experiencing a life-threatening emergency, and what care they can provide until they get the dog or cat to a veterinarian.”

Mandell became involved with the Red Cross as the organization’s pet care adviser in 2006, following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Leading up to the storm, many pet owners were forced to abandon their animals when they evacuated because they couldn’t take them into shelters. A large number of people refused to evacuate so they could remain with their beloved furry family members—a decision that placed many of them in mortal danger.

Since then, pets have become better incorporated into emergency planning, a move that seems to have helped keep pets owners with their animals in the response to Hurricane Harvey.

Emergency planning is a component of the online course. Other modules provide information on preventive care and first aid, as well as step-by-step instructions—with visual aids—to help pets who are choking, bleeding, having a seizure, or in need of CPR. Short quizzes help review important concepts at the end of the lesson. And upon successful completion of all the lessons and a concluding assessment, users can print out a certificate attesting to their new knowledge.

The course complements the Red Cross pet first aid app, a tool that puts first aid tips at users’ fingertips. Mandell also assisted in developing the app, which incorporates the latest guidelines on veterinary CPR.

“Between these two tools—the course and the app—I think pet owners, pet sitters, and dog walkers have easy access to clear, vital information to help them keep their pets healthy,” Mandell says.

About Penn Vet

Ranked among the top ten veterinary schools worldwide, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling nearly 35,000 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles nearly 4,900 patient visits a year, while the Field Service treats more than 38,000 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.

Media Contacts

Martin Hackett
Director of Communications and Marketing
mhackett@vet.upenn.edu
215-898-1475

John Donges
Communications Coordinator
jdonges@vet.upenn.edu
215-898-4234

Hannah Kleckner
Communications Specialist for New Bolton Center
hkleck@vet.upenn.edu
610-925-6241