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Pet first-aid app offers quick access to answers

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Pet First Aid by American Red Cross2 / 2

Move over, Lassie! Sit this one out, Benji! No need to get help, boys. The American Red Cross has a smartphone app that may save the lives of pets when they do or eat things they shouldn't.

As any pet owner will tell you (myself included), dogs and cats are not four-legged companions. They're family — furry, yes — but we love them as much or more than our own flesh and blood.

Thank goodness the American Red Cross has a free, downloadable app that's available at Google Play or the App Store for when there's an emergency or when tragedy strikes.

Intended for dog or cat owners (sorry, owners of pet snakes or any other exotic animal) the user-friendly app provides timely information on what to do when minutes or seconds count.

The ABCs of pet first aid, according to the app, are to check the airway to make sure it's not obstructed, check breathing and check circulation, but that's just for starters.

The app includes information with topics such as "Know What's Normal" to determine if a pet is, say, breathing too fast, dehydrated, having a fever or experiencing an abnormal heartbeat.

And the Pet First Aid app by the American Red Cross isn't just for emergencies. There's a section about "Early Warning Signs" about symptoms associated with various conditions.

For example, if a cat coughs, it can be a sign of asthma or heartworm disease while sneezing can be a sign of an upper respiratory infection, a foreign body or a tumor.

The app states, however, that the list for the aforementioned symptoms is not all-inclusive, "there could be other causes ... so discuss any/all of your pets' signs with your veterinarian."

The list of conditions — and what to do — included in the app is impressive: allergic reactions, bite wounds, bleeding, blood sugar emergencies, breathing problems, burns, car accidents, choking, collapse, CPR, drowning and electric shock, just to name a few.

The app also includes situations one may not think of — or at least some that pet owners hope never to encounter: eye emergencies, falling, frostbite, heart emergencies, heat-related, hypothermia, poisoning, seizures, shock, smoke inhalation and urinary blockage.

The Pet First Aid app also includes videos and interactive quizzes, so one can learn the proper steps and techniques before a real emergency happens and be ready to act if needed.

And because it's a smartphone app, it's designed to work with other smartphone features, such as location mapping to find the nearest vet hospital and a place for the pet's veterinarian contact information; the vet can be dialed from within the app.

Besides learning how to administer first aid to a dog or a cat, the smartphone app can help the owner find a pet-friendly hotel or offer travel tips for pet owners accompanied by their animals.

Online first-aid training is available through the app and because the app is one of a few by the American Red Cross, it offers pet-related information about evacuating or lost pets, and in unfortunate instances where death is imminent, the app advises when it's time to say "goodbye."

Hopefully, that won't be for a long while, but with the Pet First Aid app from the American Red Cross, the chances are greater that a pet owner won't have to part ways with their pets.