New app from Red Cross offers pet first-aid advice

By: Robert Moran The Philadelphia Inquirer
April 5, 2014
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photo - Banfield First Aid Sophie, a 3-month-old Japanese poodle mix seen at Banfield, The Pet Hospital, reminds pet owners to prepare during National Pet First Aid Awareness Month in April. To learn more about pet first aid, pet owners can locate the nearest Banfield by calling 1-800-768-8858, or by visiting www.banfield.net. (PRNewsFoto/Banfield)
Banfield First Aid Sophie, a 3-month-old Japanese poodle mix seen at Banfield, The Pet Hospital, reminds pet owners to prepare during National Pet First Aid Awareness Month in April. To learn more about pet first aid, pet owners can locate the nearest Banfield by calling 1-800-768-8858, or by visiting www.banfield.net. (PRNewsFoto/Banfield) 

Is your cat breathing normally? There's an app for that - for knowing what's normal, that is.

Is your dog not breathing? Hopefully you will have watched the dog CPR video on the American Red Cross' mobile app called "Pet First Aid."

The app is available for 99 cents on Apple and Android mobile devices. The humanitarian agency collaborated with University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine.

Since 2006, Deborah Mandell, a staff veterinarian and adjunct associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has served as a pet care adviser to the Red Cross, writing separate books on first aid for cats and dogs and developing Red Cross instructional courses for pet owners.

Mandell said the app gives users information "right at your fingertips when you need it," such as knowing "what's normal so they can know what's abnormal much sooner."

For anyone who wants in-depth information about pet first aid, however, "the app is certainly not a replacement for our first-aid books," Mandell said.

Several pet first-aid apps have been available since 2009, when Jive Media launched an app. Red Cross officials said its organization's reputation should be an advantage in the marketplace.

Unlike the Jive Media app, which costs $3.99 and hasn't been updated since 2010, the Red Cross app separates information about cats and dogs.

"You could look at it as two apps in one," said Paul Munn, who helped develop the app for the Red Cross.

The app also uses GPS to locate the nearest veterinary hospital or pet-friendly hotel during emergencies. Users can enter information about their pets that can be stored in the app and emailed to a veterinarian ahead of a visit.

There also are quizzes to test if users remember what they've learned.

"They've done an excellent job," said Mary Kury, a certified veterinary technician supervisor at the Quakertown, Pa., Veterinary Clinic. "They went through the most common emergencies we see on a daily basis." She also praised the app for providing "enough information without giving too much information," so a pet owner is not overwhelmed or confused.

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