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Spencer's Story

April is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month - Here's one story of the importance of knowing first aid for your dogs.


by Annie DeChance

At 4:30 on a Saturday morning, my husband and I were jolted awake by Spencer, our Siberian Husky, with a serious case of the zoomies on the bed. Since he normally only gets the zoomies at agility class or during competition, I knew something was up with him. Unfortunately, I wasn't fully awake to comprehend why the sudden change in behavior.

Spencer is usually pretty laid back and quite dramatic about waking up before he's ready to start the day. As I lay in bed trying to go back to sleep, Spencer's zoomies were now in overdrive.

Now completely wide awake, I grumbled out of bed to see what the heck was going on with him. It was then that I discovered the shredded wrapper to a 12oz candy bar of dark chocolate with almonds. Trying not to panic, I did a quick assessment of Spencer. His pupils were dilated, his gums pale pink and the water and toilet bowls empty.

Doing my best to not panic even further based on this quick assessment, my thoughts raced back to the one and only pet first aid class I took and how to quickly induce vomiting. I made up a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide and put it in his bowl. He gulped it down and ran outside with another case of the zoomies.

It was there that I discovered the second shredded wrapper of another dark chocolate bar. Now I'm in complete panic mode and doing my best to settle down and catch my silly boy and rush him to the ER.

Thankfully, the water and hydrogen peroxide mixture kicked in on the way to the hospital. Spencer promptly started throwing up about a minute into our 20-minute car ride. By the time we got to the ER, Spencer looked more like a drunken fool than my handsome boy. He could barely stand, so I carried him into the hospital.

He spent the entire day in the hospital where the veterinarians treated him with IV fluids to flush his system and medications to help purge the remaining toxins from his system. When it was time for him to go home that evening, the veterinarian told me not only did Spencer arrive in the nick of time, giving him the hydrogen peroxide before leaving home reduced the severity of the damage to his system from the toxins in the chocolate.

After a few days of rest, Spencer was back to his silly old self, running, playing and doing agility.

I take complete responsibility for being so careless by leaving the chocolate bars, a gift from a friend, in the very bottom of a box filled with books, framed photos, calendars and other trinkets on the floor in my office. Yes, Spencer did have to work very hard to find the chocolate, but I still should've known better.

I'm also very thankful I took the time to sign-up and attend a Pet First Aid class a few years ago. The information I learned at that class helped me make better decisions in a very scary and chaotic situation. It was time and money well spent.

In participation with Pet First-Aid Awareness Week, the United States Dog Agility Association partners with several national organizations to help educate pet owners on the fundamentals of caring for your pet if they experience a medical emergency.

  • Carry a pet first-aid kit in your car. The American Veterinary Medical Association provides a check list of specific items needed for your pet and tips on how to handle an injured pet.

  • Learn the signs of distress in your pet. The American Red Cross developed a mobile app that includes videos, advice and step-by-step instructions to help you through some common emergency situations.

  • Improvise. The American Animal Hospital Association compiled a list of household items that can provide temporary relief and assistance while transporting your pet to the veterinarian.

  • Call the ASPCA Poison Control Center (888-426-4435). With veterinarians on-call 24/7, they can answer questions and walk you through the appropriate steps to stabilize your pet for transport to an emergency animal hospital.

  • Find a pet first aid class new you - http://www.pettech.net/schedule/webfindc1.php

It's also important to know where the nearest 24-hour emergency animal hospital is to you. This can save valuable time during an emergency. Programming their name, address and phone number into your mobile phone will be one less thing to think about in an emergency.

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