First Aid & CPR Training

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First Aid & CPR Training

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Welcome to the Happy Hounds First Aid & CPR Training!

Cat & Dog First Aid & CPR Training

Pets are members of the family, so of course you’d want to be prepared to help them in emergency situations! This course will cover some core topics to be prepared to help your cats and dogs through some common emergency
situations. To start off, we’ll go over how to recognize normal baseline vital signs.

Training & Exam Time Management:

  1. Training Course 30-45 Minutes
  2. Exam 5-15 Minutes

Lesson Objectives

It will be easier to recognize what is abnormal for your pet if you first become familiar with what is normal. In this section we’ll cover some basic ways to check your pet’s vital signs, so you can confidently identify any abnormalities.

After this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Understand basic baseline vital signs for your pets
  2. Determine if there are any abnormalities in your pets vital signs that could be a concern

Breathing Rate

Your pets breathing rate can help in determining if there are any respiratory abnormalities. In order to determine your pets breathing rate, watch your pet and observe how many times their chest rises and falls in one minute.

  • Dog normal breathing rate: 10-30 breaths per minute, or up to 200 pants per minute (breathing with mouth open and tongue out)
  • Cat normal breathing rate: 20-30 breaths per minute

Capillary Refill

Capillary Refill Time (CRT) is used to assess your pets circulation. In order to test it for yourself, press your finger against your pets gums with a finger and release the pressure. For cats and dogs it should take anywhere from 1 to 2 seconds to return to its normal pink color.

A prolonged CRT may indicate your pet may be in, or going into, shock.


Dehydration is a common condition that should be taken seriously. Some causes of dehydration include not eating or drinking, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased urination. If left untreated severe dehydration can cause serious organ damage and even death. You can determine if your pet is dehydrated by pulling up on the skin between their shoulder blades. Upon letting go, the skin should spring right back in place. If it stays tented this can be a sign of dehydration.

Note – older animals’ skin may stay tented for a bit longer as they lose elasticity in their skin with age


Typically, an elevated temperature can be indicative of infection or inflammation, and can signify serious health issues.

Apply water-based lubricant or petroleum jelly to a digital thermometer, and gently insert the instrument into your pets rectum (just below the tail). When the thermometer beeps, remove the instrument and read the number.

Normal body temperature for both cats and dogs can be between 99.5-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Checking Heartbeat

You can feel your pets heartbeat at the point where their left elbow touches their chest (about the fifth rib).

Lay down your pet on their right side and place your hand over this area to feel and count heartbeats.

Normal Heart and Pulse Rates by Pet

Heart rates outside these ranges could signal and emergency:
Puppy (less than 1 year old) – 120-160 beats per minute
Small breed dog – 100-140 beats per minute
Medium to large breed dog – 60-100 beats per minute
Cats – 160-220 beats per minute

Checking Pulse

You can check your pets pulse rate by laying them down and touching your middle and index fingers to the inside of their upper hind leg. Lift the leg away from the lower hind leg, and place your two fingers as high up as possible, just where the leg meets the body wall; this recess is where the blood vessels run, and where you’ll find the pulse.

Mucous Membrane

Your pets mucous membranes are the inner cheeks and gums. Pull back your pets lips and examine their gums. A healthy mucous membrane would be pink and moist. If the gums are pale, white, or any other color, this can be indicative of serious health issues and emergencies, in which you should seek immediate professional care. Dry, sticky or tacky-feeling gums are indicators of dehydration.

Knowledge Check

❌ Incorrect! Try Again!

✅ That’s correct!

The amount of time taken (no more than 2 seconds) for the color to return to the gums/cheek of your pet is indicative of healthy circulation.

✅ That’s correct!

A healthy pink color is indicative of good health for your pet.

❌ Incorrect! Try Again!

Next Up-Emergency First Aid & CPR

Now that you understand how to check for some basic vital signs, we’re going to dive into recognizing breathing and cardiac emergencies.

This next section will go over checking for these serious situations, and how to provide emergency first aid.

Lesson Objectives

Breathing and heart problems are life-threatening emergencies. When seconds count, you won’t have time to look up information so it’s crucial to know how to respond before such an emergency occurs. In this lesson we’ll go over what to do in breathing and cardiac emergencies with your pets.

After this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Check your pets airways, breathing, and circulation
  2. Perform CPR on your pets
  3. Determine if your pet is choking, and what steps to take to help your pet


Checking the ABC’s of your pet are essential in providing care for them

A-Check Airway

With the pet on its side, tilt the head back, pull the tongue out, use your finger to check for a foreign object in their throat. Move your finger in a sweeping motion, so as not to push foreign objects further back into the throat (See Choking).

B-Check Breathing

Rescue Breaths are used when your pet is not breathing and needs assistance in getting oxygen. Check to see if the pet is breathing. If not then begin rescue breathing:

  • -Gently close the pet’s mouth and extend the neck to open the airway
  • -Cover the nose with your mouth and exhale until you see the pet’s chest rise
  • -Give a rescue breath over 1 second

C-Check Circulation

If your pet’s heart has stopped beating, you need to start chest compressions. Check for the heartbeat using the skills learned earlier in this course. If absent, perform chest compressions (explained in the CPR section).

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR, is used to help your pet by trying to preserve blood flow to the brain and heart. When done properly, CPR may help your pet survive longer in emergency situations until professional help can be given to your pet. CPR should only be delivered after determining that your pet is not breathing properly and has no circulation by checking their ABC’s.

Performing CPR

Follow the ABC’s

Open the pet’s airway and check to see if there is a foreign object blocking the airway, which would need to be removed.

If the pet’s airway is clear, check for breathing and a pulse. If you cannot find breathing or a pulse after 15 seconds, begin to perform CPR with chest compressions.

Chest compressions Cats and Small dogs (less than 15 pounds)

One-handed technique: Wrap your hand around the sternum at the level of the heart with your thumb on the up side and the rest of the fingers underneath.

Two-handed technique: Place one hand over the other, with the heel of the hand directly over the heart. Lock the elbows, your shoulders should be above the hands. Compress 1/3 to 1/2 the width of the chest. Make sure the chest fully recoils before compressing again.

Chest compressions Medium-Large Round chested dogs

Retrievers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, etc.

Place one hand over the other, with the heel of the hand should be placed on the highest or widest part of the chest. Lock the elbows, your shoulders should be above the hands. Compress 1/3 to 1/2 the width of the chest. Make sure the chest fully recoils before compressing again.

Chest compressions Medium-Large Deep, narrow, keel chested dogs

Greyhounds, Dobermans Pinschers, etc.

Place one hand over the other, with the heel of the hand directly over the heart. Lock the elbows, your shoulders should be above the hands. Compress 1/3 to 1/2 the width of the chest. Make sure the chest fully recoils before compressing again.

Chest compressions Barrel, flat chested dogs

Boston terriers, Pugs, French Bulldogs, etc.

Place the dog on its back. Place one hand over the other, with the heel of the hand on the highest part of the sternum. Lock the elbows, your shoulders should be above the hands. Compress 1/3 to 1/2 the width of the chest. Make sure the chest fully recoils before compressing again.

Perform cycles of 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths

Perform chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute

Gently close the pets mouth and extend the neck to open the airway

Cover the nose with your mouth and exhale until you see the pet’s chest rise

Give a rescue breath over 1 second

Briefly check for a heartbeat and spontaneous breathing every 2 minutes

Continue CPR until you reach a veterinary hospital


Choking occurs when either food or toys have gotten stuck inside your pet’s throat and is obstructing airflow. This can quickly become fatal if your pet is unable to start breathing again soon.

Signs that your pet may be choking include anxiousness, acting frantic, lack of breathing, bluish or white gums, loud or struggled breathing, and pawing at their mouth.

Treating Choking

The goal in treating choking is to remove any foreign objects that may be lodged in your pet’s throat.

First Approach

Open the mouth and pull the tongue forward; sweep insides with your finger to dislodge an object if your pet allows. Be cautious not to get bitten if your pet is frantic. Be careful not to push the object back further

Perform 5 rapid abdominal thrusts, lifting inward and upward

-Stand behind or lift the dog with their spine against your chest

-Wrap your arms under their ribs

-Make a fist with one hand, and place your other hand over it

-Deliver abdominal thrusts


Second Approach

If the object does not come out, suspend the pet by the hips with the head hanging down

-If they are too heavy to hold, lift their hind legs

-Use the palm of your hand to give 5 sharp blows between their shoulder blade

After each step, check the mouth for the object if it has not come out. If your pet has stopped breathing, give rescue breaths on your way to the veterinary hospital Monitor the heartbeat and start chest compressions if necessary.

Knowledge Check

❌ Incorrect! Try Again!

✅ That’s correct!

Closing your pet’s mouth and extending its neck allows a straight pathway for air to reach the lungs during rescue breaths.

✅ That’s correct!

Every 30 chest compressions should be followed by 2 rescue breaths during CPR for your pets.

❌ Incorrect! Try Again!

Next Up-Wounds

You’re all set on checking your pet’s ABC’s and performing CPR in emergency situations.

Now we’ll cover caring for different types of wounds your pet may experience.

Lesson Objectives

Different types of wounds can result in different types of complications, and require varying types of care. Understanding the types of wounds your pet may get can help you in providing care for them. In this lesson you’ll learn the differences between different types of common injuries, and what to do to help take care of your pet.

After this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Understand how to care for and control bleeding
  2. Understand how to dress and care for wounds on your pet


There are two types of serious bleeding. Arterial bleeding, characterized by rhythmically spurting blood, is more rapid and profuse and therefore more difficult to stop. Venal bleeding is slower may be less profuse. It is much easier to stop and less dangerous (unless a large vein is involved).

Apply direct pressure using gauze over the bleeding site

If blood soaks through, apply more gauze.

Direct pressure is the safest way to stop bleeding until you can reach a veterinary hospital.

If blood is spurting, hold the area just above the wound with your hand

If it is flowing heavily, but not spurting, hold the area just below the site. Hand positions may help close off the blood vessels.

Wrap gauze or other soft material around the wound

Secure with tape.

Check for swelling

Check repeatedly for swelling above and below the bandage, which indicates your bandage is too tight and you need to loosen it.

Elevate the wound if the leg does not seem to be broken

Continue to apply direct pressure.

Take your pet to the vet immediately

Once the wound has been secured, a veterinarian’s assistance is required to make sure the wound is taken care of to heal properly.


Abrasions scrapes to the skins top layers can be shallow and heal easily or large and more serious. Your dog may lick or scratch the area, which may appear red or ooze blood.

To care for an abrasion, follow these steps:

  1. Apply a sterile, water-soluble lubricant and clip hair around the wound with grooming clippers. The lubricant will keep hair from contaminating the wound while you shave the area.
  2. Flush and wash the wound with warm water or saline solution. This will remove the lubricant and wash away any remaining dirt or debris.
  3. Call your vet to discuss the wound.

Bite Wounds

If you did not observe the bite when it occurred, signs include a small wound or puncture in the skin, swelling, bleeding, and bruising. Other systemic signs include lethargy and anorexia if left untreated.

Pets bitten by other animals need veterinary attention to prevent the wound, regardless how large or small, from getting infected.

Smaller pets may be shaken by bigger animals during a bite, which can result in internal injuries

All bite wounds should be evaluated as there can be substantial injury underneath the superficial wound. Bite wound infections usually appear 1-2 days after the incident. Signs include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, pain in the affected area, and swelling or abscesses near the wound.


Lacerations are long or deep cuts that will most likely result in bleeding. Lacerations need to be taken care of immediately so that they may be able to heal properly.

  • -Check your pet?s ABC?s and perform CPR if needed
  • -Stop the bleeding with direct pressure
  • -For small wounds, flush and wash with warm water or saline solution
  • -Cover the area with a clean cloth, and seek veterinary care. Many lacerations will require veterinary care. Many lacerations will require sutures/stitches.

Pad Wounds

Pad wounds are typically caused by stepping on sharp objects such as glass or thorns. Apply direct pressure if bleeding.

Wash the area with warm soapy water or saline solution

Once the area has been cleaned, dry the foot off.

Place tape stirrups

Bandage the foot by placing a strip of adhesive tape on each side of the foot, starting several inches above the wound and extending several inches past the bottom of the foot (Tape should go directly on the fur).

This tape acts like stirrups to hold the bandage in place

Place gauze

Place a nonstick pad or gauze sponge over the wound

Wrap the paw with gauze roll, starting from the toes and ending just above the ankle or wrist.

Pull the ends of the sticky tape over the end of the gauze roll bandage as far as it will go, with the sticky part twisted to face and adhere to the bandage.

Wrap up the area

Place an elastic or cling roll bandage over the cotton, working from the toes to the wrist or ankle. Make sure you pull the cling roll out before placing it so that it is not too tight.

Make sure the bandage is not too tight by checking for swelling in the toes or above the bandage, and take your pet to a veterinary hospital.

Knowledge Check

✅ That’s correct!

Warm soapy water, or saline solution, is the optimal way to clean out wounds.

❌ Incorrect! Try Again!

✅ That’s correct!

After providing immediate care to your pet, you should always seek veterinary attention for your pet.

❌ Incorrect! Try Again!

Next Up-Seizures

Now you understand the different types of wounds and bleeding situations that your pet may encounter. Remember, your vet should be paid a visit after you’ve provided first aid for these situations!

Next, we’ll go over seizures, how they happen, and what you need to do during and after them.

Lesson Objectives

Seizures can be a scary experience for pet owners, so it’s important to be as prepared as possible in case they occur in your pet. While there isn’t much you can do to help your pet during a seizure, there are steps to take to make sure they are safe. In this lesson you’ll given instructions on what to do before, during, and after your pet has a seizure.

After this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Understand some of the causes of seizures, and what they look like when they do
  2. Ensure your pet is safe during their seizure
  3. Know when to bring your pet to the vet, and what to do after your pet has a seizure


Seizure General Information

Seizures can be the result of problems in the brain (central nervous system) or outside of the brain.

Central Nervous System: idiopathic epilepsy, infection or inflammation in the brain, vascular accident (bleed or clot), brain tumors, head trauma, malformation of the brain (birth defect), scar tissue in the brain.

Non Central Nervous System: Some causes include low blood sugar, low blood calcium, organ failure, poisoning.

During an active seizure, your pet will often fall over, twitch, urinate, defecate, and drool.

In something called a grand mal seizure, your pet may fall over and be stiff and rigid.

Some seizures may look like your pet is just staring into space or biting at invisible things, which is called a chewing gum seizure.

Tips for Seizures

After a seizure, the animal may be disoriented, walk into walls, or appear to be blind

Note that cats and dogs may also behave normally after a seizure.

Make sure your pet is in a safe place

Do not attempt to restrain your pet. Allow them to have space, without any objects or furniture nearby that may injure them.

Keep your hands away from your pet’s mouth, and do not disturb them

Your pet may not know who you are during their seizure, and may bite you in response. You do not need to worry about trying to hold their tongue during a seizure, your pet will not swallow their tongue.

Call your vet and bring your pet to the vet if:

  • -This is your pet’s first seizure
  • -The seizure lasts longer than 3-4 minutes
  • -Your pet is not recovering from a seizure
  • -Your pet has had multiple seizures in a 24-hour period

Seizure Medication

If a specific cause is found, your pet will be started on medication for it.

Anti-seizure medication does not cure the cause of seizures; it helps to reduce the frequency or severity of episodes.

Despite being on medication, your pet will likely experience future seizures and will need future trips to the vet.

Keeping a Log of Seizures

Keeping a log of your pet’s seizures will help keep track of important data for your vet to help treat the condition. Include information such as:

  • -Date
  • -Time of day
  • -Time after their last meal
  • -How long the active phase of the seizure lasts

Knowledge Check

✅ That’s correct!

While being able to help symptoms and create a more comfortable life for your pet, medication cannot guarantee that your pet will not have another seizure.

❌ Incorrect! Try Again!

✅ That’s correct!

All of these options can cause seizures.

❌ Incorrect! All of the options should be selected

Next Up-Health & Well-Being

At this point in the course you’ve been introduced to different types of emergency situations that you may face as a pet owner / care provider.

Up next we’ll discuss how to provide preventative care to promote health and well-being for your pets so that they may live long and happy lives.

Lesson Objectives

It’s important to make sure your pet’s life is full of love, fun, and well-being. With a few easy steps, you can ensure you’re caring for your pet in the best way possible.

After this lesson, you will be able to:

  1. Understand how to properly take care of your pet
  2. Keep your pet healthy, and increase chances of avoiding illness


Health & Well-Being


Pet owners should take their pets to a veterinarian for check-ups at least once a year.

For older pets, twice a year is recommended to stay on top of any illnesses that may develop with age.

Your vet can give your pet a body condition score, which can help adjust or maintain a healthy lifestyle for your pet.

Nutrition & Exercise

Good nutrition and plenty of exercise are the best ways to keep pets fit and trim.

The main goal in pet nutrition and health is to maintain a desirable Body Condition Score (BCS), which will vary based on species, age, and special considerations per pet.

Consult your vet on what sort of diet and health strategies your pet should be on.

Preventative Care

Taking to the vet

When acquiring pets of any age, schedule a checkup with a vet as soon as possible.

Ensure vaccinations are up-to-date.

Pets, especially those that go outdoors, can get internal parasites.
Bring a stool sample during yearly checkups.

Pets will hide signs of illness. Yearly checkups will help determine if other diagnostic tests are needed to uncover illnesses (particularly in older pets) like kidney disease, liver disease, anemia, hyperthyroidism, etc.

At Home

Always provide an abundance of fresh water.

Don’t allow your pet to roam outside alone in order to prevent injury.

Stay up-to-date with flea and heartworm medication.

Put a sticker on your front window so that rescuers know to search for animals in the event of an emergency.

Cats like to hide and nap in warm, cozy places like chimneys, dryers, engines, sofas, beds, etc. Double check these things before using them.

Pets require exercise. Depending on your dog’s breed, they may require varying amounts of exercise. Cats should get about 15-20 minutes of exercise a day.


If your pet has short hair, regularly check for external parasites, skin problems, and ear problems.

Check with your vet on the best way to trim and maintain your pet’s nails.

Brush and groom your pet regularly. Different breeds with different fur types require different amounts of grooming attention. For example, longer-haired pets should be groomed once a week.

Being Prepared for Emergency

In the event of an emergency it’s important to have a plan and be prepared on what to do to take care of your pet.

First, make sure your pet has current identification including a collar with an ID tag and microchip.

Having your veterinarian’s phone number readily available, and knowing the most efficient way to get to the nearest emergency or 24 hour hospital is critical in being able to provide immediate care for your pet.

Finally, it is important to have an emergency supplies kit that is stored in a waterproof container. 

The following is a list of recommended items to include in this kit:

  1. Sturdy leashes, harnesses and/or carriers to transport pets safely.
  2. Food, drinking water, bowls, cat litter/pan and a manual can opener if your pet eats canned food.
  3. Medications and copies of medical records including dates of vaccines.
  4. A first aid kit.
  5. Current photos of you with your pet(s) in case they get lost.
  6. Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior and problems

Knowledge Check

✅ That’s correct!

Pets should be taken to their vet at least once a year (consider going more often than that for older pets or pets with certain conditions).

❌ Incorrect! Try Again!

✅ That’s correct!

Keeping your pets healthy and happy help lead to long and comfortable lives.

❌ Incorrect! Try Again!

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