We don’t call 911 for an ambulance when a dog gets injured. So it can save a pet’s life if someone knows basic canine first aid.

A roomful of dog lovers met recently at the Alaska K-9 Center in North Pole to get certified in canine first aid, through Smiling Dog Alaska. Instructor Laura Saunders offers this special class a couple times a year in the Fairbanks area.

Canine first aid is treatment given to a sick or injured dog before professional veterinary care can be provided. “As a dog lover, dog owner or dog professional, what you do between when an injury happens and when veterinary care is available may help a dog’s recovery,” according to Dogsafe Canine First Aid 101.

Students learned the best way to remove porcupine quills, how to treat a puncture wound, how to administer cardio-pulmonary resuscitation to dogs, treatment for burns, bloating, poisoning and more.

There were some helpful props — resusci-puppies, fake model dogs for practicing mouth-to-mouth and CPR and small stuffed dogs for bandaging practice. But nothing replaces the real thing, so a 6-year-old German shepherd named Kizmet was on hand as a real live patient. Kizmet was very patient, as students felt on the inside of a leg to find the femoral artery or bandaged the dog’s head.

Much of the first aid protocol was common sense, but dogs are different from humans. For instance, the instructor advised approaching an injured dog from the side. When approaching an injured dog, get on their level, said instructor Laura Saunders. Don’t lift the dog’s head up. And muzzling a dog, panicked from an injury, can protect both the dog and the rescuer.

Students were all dog lovers. Some were there for the future protection of their own pets. Others were professional dog sitters.

“I just love dogs so much,” said Michael McGhie, who also works with a local community rescue organization to recover lost dogs.

Fran Hradecky plans to retire in a few years and launch a full-time pet sitting business. So she is pursing any dog safety certification available.

“I want to put the steps in place,” she said.

The most important thing a rescuer can do may be to stay calm during a traumatic incident.

“They’re freaking out, you’re freaking out,” Saunders said.

Just like with humans, if a dog is impaled by an object, do not pull it out Keep the dog still and stable. Wrap the object so it can’t move and get the dog to a veterinarian.

Dog suffocation can happen simply by a dog getting a potato chip bag over its head.

“That’s not a freak accident,” she said. “It happens a lot.”

More information is available about these classes through the Alaska K-9 Centre in North Pole at www.alaskak9center.com or through www.smilingdogalaska.com.

Loving dogs, Saunders said, “can just take over your life.”

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/FDNMKris.

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