Pet First Aid Month: Pet Wellness Assessment

In our Pet Tech First Aid Classes we show students how to perform a Snout-To-Tail Wellness Assessment. It’s a systematic method to set a baseline for your pet’s everyday health. The more you know about your pet’s body, normal bumps and lumps, the better prepared you will be if something abnormal appears.

Remember: Early detection means early intervention.

It is also a good bonding experience for you and your pet. You should be able to touch all parts of your pet without them becoming nervous or agitated. Doing regular Snout-To-Tail Wellness Assessments makes your pet comfortable with being touched and helps your pet be more comfortable being examined by the veterinarian.

The Assessment

IMG_2301Starting with your pet’s snout, check for any abnormal discharges or cracking in the nose, tenderness in the muzzle. Move on to the eyes- do they appear? Are they tracking together?

Next, its time to inspect the mouth, teeth and gums. Look for swelling, smells or odors. Followed by the head, skull, neck, spine and skin. Do you know what the signs of mites or infection may be? Chest and ribs should be free should be free of lumps, easily feel the ribs under the coat and breathing should be smooth, rhythmic and easy.

Move each of your pet’s legs independently to see if there’s any wincing or pain, they should move fluidly with no interruptions. Move on to the stomach and genitals. Giving slight pressure to the abdomen, check for signs of bloat. Do you know the seriousness of bloat and how it should be handled?

It’s important for your dog to rest properly, finding a good space for them to do  just that and getting the best beds for poodles or breed that you have, that will help keeping them happy and healthy.

Finally, we’re at the tail. It should have a full range of motion, but don’t push your pet’s tail beyond it’s normal range.

Celebrate Pet First Aid Month: Take A Class

There you have it! A wellness assessment for your pet that’s easy, thorough and repeatable. The assessment is intended to find irregularities in the coat, skin, lumps or bumps that may have changed since your last assessment, check this site to learn more about pets.

If you’d like to learn first hand how to complete this Snout-To-Tail assessment, sign up for our one of Pet Tech Pet First Aid and CPR or PetSaver classes today. It’s fun, interactive, informative and most importantly – hands on.

Pet First Aid 2013

Pet First Aid Classes: Saving Even More Pets

We’ve had a great year with our Pet First Aid and CPR classes. We started off this year by helping pet owners like you earn a Pet CPR and Pet First Aid certification to care for their own pets in the event of an emergency. As the year progressed we were able to help local pet-businesses, pet sitters and pet boarding facilities earn certifications for their staff.

Most importantly we were able to roll out special Pet First Aid classes to support the missions of local pet charities like Pookie’s Rescuefest and the SPCA of Central Florida. We’ve raised over $1000 for the SPCA of Central Florida. With the economy still in the dull drums pets are still being abandoned at an alarming rate. Your support has helped ensure a second chance for hundreds of local pets.

Our final class of 2013 will benefit the SPCA of Central Florida. We’ll be holding it in the Community Room of the SPCA’s Orlando location near the Mall at Millenia. Space is EXTREMELY limited and fills quickly at this popular location. Please remember, even if you register online your space is not reserved 100% until your payment is made.

To register now, please click the date below:

Sun Nov 17 – 12:00 PM at SPCA Orlando – Benefiting the SPCA

Big Paw Pet Care is proud to offer classes benefiting the finest pet charities in Central Florida. If you have a charity group or rescue that would like to offer a unique and valuable fundraiser to your supporters please contact to discuss the options we have for you. Get Pet First Aid and CPR certified today!

Visit our Pet First Aid page to learn more.

3 Steps For Treating Pet Seizures

Pet SeizuresMany of us that have pets who suffer from seizures or epilepsy.  They can be common in certain breeds and the seizures can also present themselves in many different forms.  However, most of them can be characterized as a jerky motion involving paddling of the legs and fully body spasms.

Knowing your pets health and understanding their diagnosis if they do suffer from seizures is also important.  If your pet has a seizure for the first time or, it lasts longer or, looks different are very important factors that should not be dismissed and are also sure reasons to take your pet to a veterinary clinic for further evaluation. Seizures can also be a result from head trauma, poisonings, heat injuries such as hyperthermia as well as many other causes.

If your pet does suffer a seizure, there are 3 Steps to keep in mind to help them through it.

  1. NEVER put anything in the pet’s mouth!  You don’t want to compromise their airway and may now have made the situation worse.  On top of that, if you cherish your fingers, it may also be a good idea to keep them out of your pet’s mouth.  With that said, the good news is that it’s a lesson you have many times to learn, namely 10…
  2. During the seizure, reduce external stimuli such as lights or sound.  Make sure they don’t injure themselves on nearby furniture or if they are in close proximity to a staircase, make sure the don’t fall down the stairs.
  3. Like in any other emergency, keep calm and don’t panic.  Your pet is very much in tune with your energy level so if you stay calm, it will help reduce you pet’s stress too.

Stay safe and let the pet seizures run their course and have a plan before you take action once they have passed. Most importantly, be prepared to take your pet to an emergency pet care clinic as soon as you and your pet are safe.

How To Prevent Pet Poisoning

Preventing Pet PoisoningAccidental poisoning is one of the more common reasons pets visit an animal hospital. Often, people tend to forget that like kids, pets are inquisitive especially in the younger years.  Careless handling and storage of cleaning supplies, pool chemicals and other household items can lead to very bad consequences. If you’re a pet owner, it’s a good idea to think about safety proofing your home to prevent pet poisoning. Below are some ideas to consider when going through your home.

When saftey-proofing your home for a pet, think about all the different types of ways poisons can enter your pet through a few different routs.  Many poisons can be injected, absorbed, ingested or inhaled. If you’re a cat owner, it may not be enough just placing dangerous items on a higher shelf or cabinet.

Also consider the geographical environment in which you live.  Different regions have different flora and critters that could be dangerous for the pets.  Animals such as snakes, frogs, black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders, fire ants and wasps are to name a few. Pest management is very important to ensure your pooch doesn’t go sniffing around the home of one of these animals.

If you’re a cat owner, you may want to check regularly to see that webs and spiders have been removed from your shed. Living in Florida, you may come across black widows spider. Cats are especially sensitive to the bite from a black widow and can loose 30% of their body weight in the first 24 hours after a bite.

Always be aware of your surroundings and know the different resources you have at hand in case of an emergency.  Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect a poisoning and induce vomiting only if you are advised to do so by your vet. If you can, get a sample of the vomit for analysis to determine the exact type of poisoning.

Signs and symptoms of a poisoning may not appear instantly as in an anaphylactic reaction, where the body swells and constricts breathing. So keep monitoring your pet as you safely transport them to an animal hospital or your veterinarian. Keep in mind that in an emergency, making a call to the vet and asking them for advise is the absolute best thing to do.

Windermere Pet Sitter Warns: P&G Pet Food Recall

Pet Food Recall

The Procter & Gamble Company has voluntarily recalled specific lots of dry pet food because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. These lots were distributed in the United States and represent roughly one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of annual production. No Salmonella-related illnesses have been reported to date in association with these product lots.

The effected brands include both IAMS and Eukanuba dog and cat foods.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

For more information please visit the Proctor and Gamble website.
photo credit: laffy4k via photopin cc

Pet First Aid & CPR: Help Your Pets & Help the SPCA

We’re very excited today to announce two special Pet First Aid and CPR certification classes.

photoThe classes themselves will train you in the same procedures for treating bleeding, choking or applying CPR. Get your CPR Certification in Tulsa to keep saving lives.

But these classes are special for one simple reason: all proceeds will be given to the SPCA of Central Florida.

The SPCA of Central Florida was established in 1937 with the purpose of educating the general public about the responsible human behavior towards animals. Since then their vision has been firmly established: to no longer be needed.

The SPCA only accepts surrendered pets and that makes them responsible for nearly 300 pets every single week. By years end they will have had more than 15,000 animals in their care.

But the SPCA’s responsibilities don’t end at re-homing pets. They offer a food program for low-income or unemployed pet owners, with food delivered right to their door. They offer low-cost vet service in their clinic, summer camps and of course training classes. That’s where Big Paw Pet Care comes in…

This summer we’ll be offering a couple of classes, one in SPCA’s Sanford location and one at their Orlando location by Millenia Mall. All proceeds from the class will go to the SPCA as they continue their mission.

If you’d like to join us for one of these classes, please visit the Pet First Aid Training page of this website to register.

If you’d like to make a donation to the SPCA of Central Florida or maybe even volunteer, please visit:

Orlando Pet Sitter Lists Plants That Are Poisonous To Dogs and Cats

Summer is here and most likely you and your family are spending more and more time outside. Many of us spend time in the yard or out in parks. With Florida’s diverse plant and flowers it’s important to keep in mind what your dog or cat may be allergic to or could even be poisonous to your pet.

poisonous plants for petsLilies Members of the Lilium spp. are considered to be highly toxic to cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been identified, it is clear that with even ingestions of very small amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.

Sago Palm (pictured to the left)
All parts of Cycas Revoluta are poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts” contain the largest amount of toxin. The ingestion of just one or two seeds can result in very serious effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.

Tulip/Narcissus bulbs
The bulb portions of Tulipa/Narcissus spp. contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.

Members of the Rhododenron spp. contain substances known as grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals. Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.

All parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, as they contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious effects—including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.

Castor Bean
The poisonous principle in Ricinus communis is ricin, a highly toxic protein that can produce severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Severe cases of poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma and death.

Cylamen species contain cyclamine, but the highest concentration of this toxic component is typically located in the root portion of the plant. If consumed, Cylamen can produce significant gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have also been reported in some cases.

For more information on poisonous plants to animals or for a complete list of poisonous plants please visit


Orlando Pet CPR Trainer: Keep Summer Fun For Pets

Now that the weather is warmer many of us are looking forward to going to the beach, basking in the sun and wearing lighter clothing.

It’s an awesome time of year and one of the reasons I love Florida.  Many of our pets enjoy basking in the sun, in a sunspot just inside those sliding glass doors or lay next to a window were the sun shines through. However, they can’t dress for the occasion like us, so instead, they’ll move away when it becomes too hot for them.

My girl Sookie checking out some tastey waves at the beach.

My girl Sookie checking out some tastey waves at the beach.

Some pets are less fortunate and end up in a backyard without shade or inside a vehicle with nowhere to go.  Even with completely open windows a vehicle can reach extremely hot temperatures, ultimately sending a pet into a heat stroke very quickly. It’s important to never put your pet in this type of situation during the summer months.

Some breeds are much more susceptible to heat stroke than others without preparation you could inadvertently put your pet in a situation just as dangerous as leaving them in a backyard. So if you do take your pet to the beach, make sure it’s not drinking the ocean water, as it may lead to hypernatremia,  a type of dehydration, which could result in kidney failure. Keep plenty of water on hand at all times and make sure you understand your pet’s limitations during walks or activities in the sun.

And keep an eye out for these signs of a overheated pet:

  1. Uncontrollable panting
  2. Excessive drooling
  3. Gums that are red in color

Knowing the normal temperature of your pet is another great tool as the temperature range is large depending on the pet. Have a digital thermometer handy in your pet first aid kit!

Enjoy the summer and sun with your pets, but as my mother always said, “be sensible about it”!

Dog & Cat CPR Training: Orlando’s Total Pet Care

School’s Out For The Summer

Pet CPR First Aid

No more pencils, no more books. Well, maybe just books you WANT to read.

Summer is just around the corner and the kids will finally be out of school. There will be lots of time for playing in the park and swimming. Many of us will be taking our pets along for an adventure to the local dog park or even on vacation. But we know with this extra time traveling outdoors, we have many more opportunities for bumps and “boo boos” to our kids and our pets.

So, while you’re taking a break from after school soccer practices and cheerleading competitions, sign up for our first aid certification courses this summer. Pets are cherished members of our family and we want to be the best pet parent or siblings we can be to them. So use the few extra summer hours of free time to train your whole family for your pets medical emergencies.

More Than Just CPR

My classes are more than just CPR, chest compressions and bandaging protocols (don’t worry, you learn all this important stuff too). These classes cover prevention and preparation too. There’s no better way to prepare for an emergency than to take every step you can to avoid an emergency. Do you know which summer plant is poisonous to your cat? What are the tell-tale signs your dog is overheating?

By knowing these in advance, you can easily avoid them all summer long and keep your pets happy, healthy and safe.

More Classes, More Locations

Happy Paws Big Paw Pet Care Pet CPR and First Aid

Happy dogs love Happy Paws. Happy pet parents love their CPR & First Aid Trained Staff

This summer I’ll be bringing our Pet Tech first aid training to more places around Central Florida. Starting in June we’ll have classes hosted by our friends at Happy Paws Pet Resort for you Winter Park, Union Park and UCF area pet lovers. Happy Paws is so dedicated to pet safety and care they are requiring their entire staff to be certified.

These guys are awesome. Talk about peace of mind for your next pet boarding. Happy Paws owners, Karina and Michael really love your pets as much as you do. Check out the following links if you’d like to sign up for a class at Happy Paws:

We’ll be announcing more classes this summer benefitting local rescues and charities. Keep your eyes peel to our Facebook page and my home page on

Orlando Pet CPR Trainer: How Pet CPR Differs from Human CPR

Big Paw Pet Care Pet First Aid Pet CPR

Nick Vowden, Certified Pet First Aid Trainer

Most of us care for our human family members as well as our furry ones too. Some of us take a CPR class, so that they give their loved one a better chance of surviving a medical emergency. But do you need to take CPR classes for pets too?

CPR classes for humans and classes for pet CPR are similar in only one way: Using the techniques learned in a CPR class could be the difference between life and death, permanent or temporary disability, rapid recovery and long recuperation, expensive hospital or vet bills and reasonable home care.

Statistics show that early CPR is the key to survival in many cases.  In both human CPR and pet CPR, the object is to circulate the oxygen in the blood as soon as possible with the help of chest compressions.

But in pet CPR, techniques are also based on the SHAPE of the animal’s chest.

Big Paw Pet CareA barrel-chested dog such as a bulldog for instance, has a very broad chest and requires a different technique. Ironically, that technique looks very much like human CPR with the dog placed on it’s back and the compressions are performed on the front of the chest.

The reason being, it’s a longer distance to the heart and more difficult to perform effective compressions if placing the dog on its side and compressing the chest, than it is from the front of the chest while the dog is on it’s back.

Come join us for a pet CPR class and learn the techniques you need to know in the event of an emergency. We offer them regularly throughout the year at various convenient locations around Central Florida.

Remember that in a medical emergency: doing something is always better than doing nothing.