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Canine first aid taught in Unity

Ten pet owners n Unity willingly gave up Easter Sunday to participate in a canine first-aid class, let by Jenn Burgoyne

UNITY — Ten pet owners in Unity willing to give up their Easter Sunday were lucky enough to learn from one of the best.

Jenn Burgoyne, who has taught equine and canine training to law enforcement and the public in both Canada and the United States, put on a Canine Health Canada emergency first aid course at the Legion Hall in Unity April 9. She has been teaching animal first aid courses for 12 years and is certified by Canine Health Canada.

The class was organized and hosted by Wiggles and Whiskers Pet Supply shop.

The all-day workshop started with discussions and education on general health, including nutritional needs, exercise and rest. Did you know dogs need more sleep than humans? An average dog needs about 14 hours of sleep a day, while puppies and large breeds can need as much as 18 to 20 hours.

After going through how to check a dog’s vital signs, and what the normal range for such signs is, ways to help a dog in an emergency situation were covered. Priorities are to preserve life, prevent further injuries or a condition from worsening, minimize pain and suffering, and promote recovery.

Just as in human first aid, the first things to check are breathing, bleeding and then an assessment of any other injuries that may be present. Artificial respiration and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) were covered, but so was dealing with bites and stings, types of bleeding, bloat, broken bones, burns, choking, poisons and more.

Burgoyne was assisted by three of her dogs, Chaos, Raya and Kona. The dogs were used for demonstration and students were able to practise such tasks as finding a dog’s pulse, taking a dog’s temperature and bandaging different types of wounds hands-on with the three canines. Burgoyne always checked on the students’ work and sometimes students had to unravel and re-do a bandage before it was approved.

The mouth-to-nose resuscitation and CPR, however, were practised on stuffed toy animals.

At the end of the day, Burgoyne assigned homework to all attendees, with vital signs and nose-to-tail general condition worksheets to be completed for each dog owned by a student. She encourages dog owners to periodically check those vital signs so as to be aware of what is normal for their dog and thus be able to quickly recognize when something is not right and vet attention may be needed.

Burgoyne posts regularly to her Facebook page, Courage K9, with not only new class dates and locations but also timely training and care tips, such as recently describing which spring bulbs are toxic to dogs.