Pet First Aid app provides peace of mind

Published Jan 23, 2014 at 4:38 pm (Updated Jan 23, 2014 at 4:38 pm)

If your pet is showing signs of illness or injury, it’s probably a good idea to take it directly to the vet. But what if your pet suddenly gets sick in the middle of the night? Would you know what to do?

The Red Cross hopes to make those decisions a little easier with its Pet First Aid app for iPhone and Android users. The app, said Lauren Ashley, regional communications officer for the Western Pennsylvania region of The American Red Cross, is geared specifically toward dog and cat owners, and contains basic emergency care and preparedness information targeted to each animal.

“The Red Cross recognizes that pets are an important part of many families, and the app offers several resources to help owners prepare for potential emergencies and include their pets in their disaster/emergency action plans,” she said.

The Pet First Aid app gives smartphone users instant access to information obtained from experts in the field of pet care and health. In addition to helping pet owners learn how to recognize health problems and when to contact their veterinarian, the app also 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. Other topics include burns, car accidents, falls and what to do for cold- and heat-related emergencies.

Ashley said the app also touches upon disaster planning, and added, “History has shown that people will risk their lives for their family pets during disasters by not evacuating or by trying to rescue them, so including pets in emergency planning before a disaster occurs keeps the whole family safe.”

The app also allows pet owners to create a pet profile, including tag identification number, photos, a 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 the “animal hospital locator;” locate pet-friendly hotels; and test their knowledge with interactive quizzes and earn badges that they can share on their social networks along with their favorite picture of their pet.

The American Red Cross also offers a Red Cross Pet First Aid course, which Ashley said instructs attendees on how to respond to health emergencies and provide basic first aid for their dogs and/or cats. “Practice and preparation help pet owners be calm and effective in an emergency, protecting themselves and their animals from further injury or suffering,” she said, adding that while there are currently no courses scheduled in the Western Pennsylvania area, those who wish to learn more can call 1-800-REDCROSS.

Ashley said that all proceeds from the 99-cent Pet First Aid App will go to support all Red Cross programs and services. She added that although this is the first pet-related app to be released by the Red Cross, the organization has released various other apps including the First Aid, Hurricane, Wildfire, Tornado, Earthquake, Shelter Finder and Team Red Cross: Volunteer apps.

The Pet First Aid App and other Red Cross apps can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to RedCross.org/MobileApps.

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