Watch Tip: Learn Your Pets’ Vital Signs

Posted on April 22nd, 2012 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoBe better prepared for emergencies involving your pets by learning how to take their normal (healthy) vital signs: pulse rate, respiratory rate, and temperature. You’ll want to know both the resting and active rates. Keep that information in your pet first aid kit, so you will recognize a problem earlier. Optionally, ask your vet to provide that information at your pet’s next exam.

Review: “Pet First Aid & Disaster Response Guide” by founder Elaine Acker

This week’s tip was inspired by Acker’s book (cover pictured at right). You already know that Sunbear Squad encourages animal lovers to be good Samaritans for companion animals, especially neighbors’ pets and lost or abandoned animals in your area. We want every animal lover to be prepared, equipped, and knowledgeable, so we like to recommend helpful resources like this book ($18.95). This is one you want in your first aid kit. But please read it first; you’ll be glad you did.
Click on the book cover to purchase the book.

The distributor introduces the book using this text:

The Pet First Aid & Disaster Response Guide is designed to help pet owners provide temporary, urgent care to pets until they can reach a veterinary or emergency clinic. The text will teach readers to care for their animals before, during, and after an emergency.

The Pet First Aid & Disaster Response Guide includes coverage of:

  • Injury prevention and disaster preparation.
  • Personal safety precautions to help pet owners identify and minimize risks.
  • A wide array of pet emergencies including bleeding and bite wounds, cardiac arrest, choking, burns, poisoning, trauma, and more.

What the distributor doesn’t say about this book is perhaps it’s most helpful feature: design. This guide is thoughtfully designed to be used by ordinary non-medical people like me during an emergency, when you need information fast. It is full color, easy to read (larger than average type size, bold subheadings, instructional text positioned next to clear illustrations) and features printed color tabs allow the reader to navigate to a the preferred section quickly.

The author provides a wealth of information in checklists for easy comprehension and includes set-off tips, which presents some key concepts at a glance. The book is a very portable size and should easily fit into most first-aid kits.

Excellent illustrations give confidence to the reader. The Normal Vital Signs section which inspired our tip above includes three helpful drawings to show three pulse points. I was immediately inspired to try all of them on Maddax who is sleeping beside me as I write this. The same information buried in text-heavy paragraphs would not have prepared me to try. Color illustrations are a significant investment and one that some publishers might have dismissed on cost alone.

Because Lives Depend on It: Making a disaster action plan for pets and people

The author conceptualized the reference in two sections; it’s like two books in one. The disaster planning guide (last quarter of the book) presents essential information in a digest format for easy reading, including checklists and sidebars. She provides three disaster kit lists for companion animals, horses, and people. And if you don’t believe disaster could happen in your neighborhood, check out her A-Z list of “What could possibly go wrong?” Did you miss making a New Year’s resolution in 2012? This is a good one.

PetsAmerica, the organization behind the book

While I can’t comment on the validity of content because I am not a professional in the veterinary field, I have confidence that the information presented is sound advice. The organization Pets America “collaborates closely with the Emergency Care and Safety Institute, Emergency Veterinary Hospitals, the International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, and other partners to help teach pet owners to better care for their pets before, during, and after an emergency” according to their website. The back cover credits tell us that over 200 veterinary professionals had some role in bringing the book to the public and over 400 were surveyed for input. That’s good enough for me!

A final note: don’t buy this book or any similar reference in electronic format. While I like my Kindle just fine, I won’t assume that I’ll always have power for it during an emergency and neither should you.

Thank you Elaine Acker for masterminding and writing this book, and for founding the organization in the wake of Katrina. It looks like it was a massive project and a true labor of love. I can appreciate how it likely monopolized your life for some years. I’m glad to spread the word.

One Response to “Watch Tip: Learn Your Pets’ Vital Signs”

  1. […] was kind (whew!).  If you’d like to check it out, here’s a link to her post: This entry was posted in Critters, Reviews by Elaine. Bookmark the […]