January 25, 2015 by Julia
Ages ago (OK, early 2000s) I took a college Red Cross First Aid & CPR course. I spent several weeks breathing into dummies, thumping fake babies on the back, and bandaging up my classmate’s invisible wounds. At the end, I was given a chance to take the Instructor course. I spent another couple of weeks learning how to present breathing, thumping, and bandaging.
When I signed up for the Dog and Cat First Aid & CPR class, I expected a similar hands-on experience. So I was a little disappointed when I spent 4 hours sitting in a room with some Melissa & Doug brand stuffed animals that were wearing pet oxygen masks for show while we looked at slides and short video clips.
While the materials did present some good information and the presenter was knowledgeable, it also contained a lot of things I already knew. At one point a classmate turned to me and asked if I’d taken the class before – I said “No, I’ve just had dogs with issues.” It isn’t the first person someone has commented on my “education.”
While Xena and Delta made their own contributions, Dash has practically been a veterinary crash course (or at least vet tech).
Signs dogs made have an issue with their ear – head shaking and holding the ear at an odd position. Dash has a pretty expressive head and body, so it doesn’t take a lot of guessing when something “typical” is bothering him. Yep, one of his nicknames is Mr. Low Ears. You see that angle, it’s time to get a closer look.
Use hydrogen peroxide take make them vomit recently eaten foreign objects and non-caustic substances. Did I ever tell you about the time Dash swallowed the entire fleece bait bag at agility… twice? (Yes, we did put the bag on a leash after that) I can also tell you that a dog may drink peroxide the first time you use it on him, but afterwards he’s like to make a gagging face when he catches a whiff of it. One time when I had to use it on Delta, Dash got a whiff, made a face, and scampered off. He’ll pass on the fizzy drink, thanks.
Use Benedryl for allergic reactions. The presenter said 1/2mg per pound of body weight. I disagree – Dash has needed up to 2mg/1lb for some of his stings. He gets a little sleepy at that dose, but better to be sleepy than itchy, right?
The normal canine temperature is between 100-102.5F. While I knew this in 2007, Aaron did not. This is why, when the vet told us Dash had a temperature of 105, Aaron exclaimed “He’s f***ing cooking!” We had to assure him that No, Dash was not cooking. But Dash certainly needed the immediate medical care he got for his sterile (immune-mediated) meningitis.
Among the lessons also covered in both the class and life, probably the most important lesson is to “know your dog’s normal.” The part that they don’t cover in the course is trusting you know it even when others say you’re wrong. Dash’s “normal” is not another dog’s normal and certainly not what the vet considers normal. He has symptoms that are backwards or logical but not documented. But I know his normal, so I push when everything looks “fine” or the minor deviation the vet found “isn’t enough to cause the problem.” I can make connections that others can’t because I know how he operates and that is invaluable.
What is your dog’s normal?