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The RATS Doggie First Aid Course

By Deobrah Robinson

What a brilliant morning!! I really didn’t know what to expect when I signed up to the Doggie First Aid Course but, having had a few ‘accident prone’ pooches over the years, I figured any knowledge would be useful.

As it turned out, I walked away with a LOT of knowledge and, perhaps more importantly, when to apply it and under what circumstances it would be appropriate and safe to do so.

Held at the Manor House in Buntingford and delivered by the knowledgeable Louise (ably assisted by her gorgeous dog, Opie) from Dog First Aid Herts & Beds, we started with the basics i.e. what we should know about our own dogs and how to check their NOSES, EYES, EARS, FUR and MOUTH for good health. I also learned some interesting facts – did you know that dogs’ sense of smell has a radius of 2-3 miles and their noses can have up to 300 million olfactory sensors? While we humans only have around 5 million, so that explains all that sniffing of wee-mails!

Then we moved on to their vital signs and how to check for environmental conditions such as Heat Stress and Stroke and, again, knowing what your dog’s normal heart-beat, respiratory rate and temperature really helps to provide a baseline, although I have to admit that my dog has been very suspicious of my attempts so far!

Then, since Opie wasn’t looking too keen on playing the dummy, we moved on to ‘Cassie’ to practice our CPR skills and, in my case, a tuneless rendition of Nelly the Elephant (you have to go on the course to find out more!).

After a welcome break for tea, coffee and biscuits, we covered other potential risk scenarios including SEIZURES, BLEEDING, DOG FIGHTS, SHOCK, BURNS, TOXINS and CHOKING.

Given the number of toxic substances surrounding us every day and the curious nature of some of our furry companions, one phone number I think is worth sharing with every dog-guardian is that of the ANIMAL POISON LINE – 01202 509000. run by veterinary professionals, it could save your dog’s life.

Again, lots of very useful information was provided, not just on how to respond as a Dog First Aider to these situations, but also how to avoid them in the first place which is possibly even more important.

It’s stressed throughout the course that the skills you learn aren’t intended to replace veterinary care but to try and keep a dog alive long enough to reach a vet who can provide professional treatment and as such, they could very well be life-saving.

A big ‘thank you’ to Buntingford Town Council for the use of the Manor House, a great location, and to Louise and Opie who gave their time for free and raised a fabulous £550 for RATS!

If you’d like to become a Doggie First Aider and help to support RATS too, please email us at to register for the next course (date tbc).

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