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It is in our human nature to think that accidents always seem to happen to others.

I am a positive, optimistic person, but accidents DO happen! On average the U.S. records over 1 million emergency visits per year for pets and most of them could be prevented. As a Pet Tech First Aid instructor for pet first aid, I hear stories from my students all the time of what CAN happen. So here are eight easy steps every responsible pet owner can take to instantly increase the safety of our fury family members. As I tell my students: “We prepare for the worst and hope for the best!”

Many pet related organizations provide emergency cards, but you can easily print your own. Include your name, address, what kind of pet you have with a picture, any special considerations and most importantly who can take care of your pet in case you cannot be reached. Place one card on your door or window to inform first responders that pets are inside the house – they are trained to look for these stickers. Also include one card in your wallet behind your driver’s license/ID. Pet owners who live alone with their pets need to identify who will take care, who will take care of their dog or cat when they are not able to do so.

Save important phone numbers and addresses in your phone, such as the Hotline for Poison Control (888-426-4435). Most likely emergency situations happen on the weekends when regular vet offices are closed. Know the nearest emergency veterinary hospital in your area and make yourself familiar with alternative routes in case of traffic jams. In the Metro Atlanta Area we are also fortunate to have a 911 Service for pets: Atlanta Animal Ambulance (678-439-K911).

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Download the Pet Tech app on your smart phone, which is like having “A PetSaver in your Pocket™” with instant access to emergency protocols, your pet’s vet records, and an extensive list of poisonous substances (use code NE2021).

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There are many first aid kits available to purchase and it is certainly a good start. As a first aid responder, I highly recommend to create your own emergency kit. Each pet is unique and the content of your kit depends on the activities you like to do with your dog and the different environments you encounter. Pet parents should be familiar with the first aid content and ideally take a first aid class to learn how to use these items. An example list of content can be downloaded at DobieMom.com.

You know your pooch or kitty best! You know what is normal and what is abnormal for them. Start doing regular snout to tail assessments with deliberate intent and purpose. Dogs and cats tend to mask symptoms and injuries. Look for anything that is not normal, which your pet did not initially present to you. Doing this regularly, will enable you to detect any health issues early, before they become a bigger problem.

Complete a pet manual with all pertinent emergency information for your pet and include it in your first aid kit. This manual is intended for all people who handle your dog or cat, whether it is in an unexpected emergency situation, during vacations, hospital stays or for training purposes. Besides all emergency contacts, it should include: basic commands you use for your pet, personality traits, fear triggers, diet and health information such as regular medications, supplements, lasts vaccinations, any allergies or chronic illnesses your pet might have. A template of a pet manual can be downloaded at DobieMom.com.

Unfortunately,the pet food industry is self-regulating and pet food recalls occur quite frequently. Most health conscious pet parents avoid buying pet foods and treats made in China.  One of the biggest food recalls happened in 2007 when over 100 different brands where involved. U.S. Manufacturers received the same mineral/vitamin complex from China, which was contaminated with melamine. I therefore urge all pet parents to take some time and research the quality of  food they buy and register for food recall alerts at dogfoodadvisor.com.

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According to the American Animal Hospital Association, one out of five pets would survive if pet parents would apply first aid techniques in an emergency situation. When life threatening accidents happen, minutes, even seconds count! By attending a Pet Tech First Aid Class, you increase the chances of becoming a true lifesaver for your pet. It is the best gift that we can give our beloved pets! Don’t wait until accidents happen! Sign up for one of my summer classes (Sat. July 16th or Sun. August 21st) at DobieMom.com.

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