April is the American Red Cross’ “Pet First Aid Awareness Month”! This is a great time for pet owners to brush up on tips to keep their animals safe and healthy as we head into Spring and Summer. In case you weren’t aware, the Red Cross offers courses on first aid and CPR for pets. Please visit Redcross.org/training or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to see when classes are available. The Red Cross has also developed Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid Guides in DVD format. These guides are available through the Red Cross Store at www.Redcross.org.

When planning for emergencies in your home or neighborhood, don’t forget to include your pets! The Red Cross has a printable Pets and Disaster Safety Checklist available at: http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m3640126_PetSafety.pdf

Along with this, Cats on Broadway hospital recommends that ALL cats (and dogs) be microchipped. Microchipping is the most reliable way to get a pet back if they become lost for any reason: natural disaster, house fire, car accident, or just happen to get outside and wander off. A collar is not a reliable means of identification. Cat collars are frequently lost (all cat collars should be of the “break away” variety – this is a safety measure to prevent cats from choking on a snagged collar). Microchipping is safe and implantation is easy to perform. Please call the clinic at 728-0022 if you have any questions about microchipping.

In the warmer weather, heat stroke is one of the most common dangers pets face. Cats and dogs have a higher resting body temperature than humans (100 – 102 compared to 98 – 99) and can quickly overheat if unable to cool themselves. This is most commonly seen when a pet is left inside a locked car. The inside of a car can quickly (within a few minutes) reach 120 degrees in warm weather, even with the windows partially open. Never leave a pet in a locked car for any length of time. At home, make sure pets have plenty of shade and water. The signs of heat stroke include:

Heavy panting, which may include excessive salivation and being unable to calm down, even when lying down.
Brick red gums.
Fast pulse rate.
Lethargy/inability to get up.
Vomiting, diarrhea
If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, you should take your pet’s temperature rectally. If the temperature is above 105 degrees Fahrenheit, cool the animal down by immersing in cool (not cold) water and bring the pet to a veterinarian immediately. Stop cooling the animal if their temperature comes down to 103 degrees. Intravenous fluids, supplemental oxygen, or other medications may be needed as heat stroke can lead to severe organ dysfunction and death.