NEWBURYPORT — The stuffed poodles used this week as models during a pet CPR class at Dogs in The Rrruff may have been fake, but the necessity to know what to do should your poodle or any dog or cat need emergency treatment was very real to the six people in attendance.
The four-hour class Monday, attended by professional dog groomers and others in the pet industry, covered several emergency techniques, including how to stop a dog from choking and how to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Kathy Burke, owner of the Pleasant Street dog grooming center, said she has taught the course multiple times since opening her business in June. Upon being certified to perform CPR on animals, Burke said she wanted to share her knowledge with others in her profession and anyone who cares about a pet.
"It's too important not to," Burke said. "They (pets) have no voice; they can't tell us what's wrong."
Dog groomers Maura A. Doyle of Newburyport and Linda Kay of Saugus said they attend training sessions periodically to refresh themselves on proper techniques. A distressed dog's first thought will be to bite someone trying to help it, so getting reacquainted with how to approach such a dog is important, they said.
"We need to be reminded not to overreact, do the right thing at the right time," Kay said.
"It's unbelievably important," Doyle added.
Burke stressed that the techniques taught in her class aren't meant to supplant a trip to a veterinarian, but to stabilize a pet until they can be brought somewhere for treatment.
Dog groomers are not required to learn these techniques or attend refresher courses to remain certified, but Burke said she would like to see such requirements in the future.
About an hour into the class, Burke demonstrated the three different methods of CPR used on dogs: the taco (for small dogs under 10 pounds), the side-to-side method and the barrel-chested approach used on larger dogs.
Earlier, Burke showed students how to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. A key to successfully giving mouth-to-mouth to a dog is creating an airtight seal around the mouth and then looking for the rising and falling of the dog's chest. Every so often, Burke showed where to take a dog's pulse: the femoral artery located near a hind leg.
Burke also showed students how to safely muzzle a dog before administering basic first aid. If a muzzle isn't available, Burke said owners can use shoelaces, tube socks or even a bra, as long as it safely closes their mouths.
"Anything soft," Burke said.