New CU Anschutz course teaches Wilderness Emergency Canine Care

Adventurers can learn what to do when four-legged companions need help
By Staff

New CU Anschutz course teaches Wilderness Emergency Canine Care

Buddy wasn’t looking too good. His breathing was rapid and his heart rate almost too fast to count; he could barely wag his tail. He was panting and he went belly down on the dirt in the shade. It was hot, maybe 90 degrees and the mid-afternoon southern Utah sun he and his owner had just been hiking in was brutal. Should we be worried about Buddy, a 50-or-so-pound lab mix? What would you do?

That’s where a new and unusual course – Wilderness Emergency Canine Care, offered by the CU School of Medicine’s Section of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine – comes in to play.

The class will be offered for the very first time on June 2 and then again on June 3.

“We know that Coloradans love two things: adventure and their dogs,” said Todd Miner, senior instructor in the section and the originator of the class. “There are a lot of wilderness first-aid classes for people, but none for their best friends, their dogs.”

With that in mind, Miner, along with longtime veterinarian Mary Wright, came up with a class for adventurers who head off-pavement with their dogs eagerly in tow. 

Wright is a Colorado State University grad who has practiced in Colorado for decades and has treated family pets, police and SAR dogs, as well as a host of wild mammals. She was a natural to design and teach the class.

“We’re the ones who bring them out there; we need to be their first responders,” Wright said. “We want to give participants in the class enough skills to assess their dog, treat common and even some life-threatening issues, and know when and how best to evacuate a dog in serious distress.” 

Topics covered in the class include prevention, assessment, wound care, ortho injuries, heat and cold illness, digestive issues and a host of other traumas and illnesses. The course is designed for anyone who ventures into the field with Fido — there are no prerequisites or no medical or veterinary knowledge is expected or needed. 

Oh, and Buddy? He turned out to be just fine after a lot more water, a belly — almost bare, with very little fur — that was sprayed with water, and a long rest in the shade. A little knowledge can be most beneficial.

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