MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Around one million dogs and cats in the US are covered by health insurance and that number is growing by about 10 percent every year. Many animal owners are taking extra steps to keep their pets safe by learning mouth to snout CPR.
Paulette and Bob Weible operate Search Dogs South and are part of the growing trend of pet owners learning CPR.
"We can't do anything without them," Bob Weible said. "We're there to keep them out of trouble and to learn from them, what they do better than we could ever do."
Dr. Carr Kelsey teaches pet CPR at Kelsey K-9 Medical Center in Collierville.
"Keep her head extended and her mouth straight before we start CPR," Kelsey said. "You want to do about a breath every two to three seconds."
Kelsey said pet CPR is very simple. He demonstrated on her dog, Gracie, who was lightly sedated for the demonstration.
"CPR is so important these days because pets are so active because they're getting out in the fields," Kelsey said. "There are a lot of retriever owners around here."
Kelsey advised pet owners to think of pet CPR in terms of A-B-C.
"'A' stands for airway, you want to check their airway for debris, mucus, things like that," Kelsey said. "'B' stands for breathing, we're going to do mouth to nose, do a breath every two to three seconds. 'C' stands for circulation and you're going to use your hand if it's a smaller dog and compress their chest by about 30 percent. If it's a bigger dog ... you're going to have to use your hand and push firmly on their chest."
Kelsey described the difference between human and pet CPR.
"It's mouth to nostril and not mouth to mouth," Kelsey said. "Their mouth, you couldn't get enough around it so you have to use their nose."
Last month, the Fayette County Technical Rescue Team trained in pet CPR and basic life support techniques.
"It's a growing trend," Kelsey said. "They're family members and now people want to do whatever they can for them."
For the Weibles, learning how to save their rescue dogs, Nitro and Cheyenne, was a no-brainer. Nitro is trained specifically to search for cadavers on land and in water. He also searches the Ole Miss football stadium for explosive. Cheyenne is trained to find people still alive after disaster.
"You just can't describe the feeling when you find a missing child or elderly person who wouldn't have made it had your dog not been able to find them," Paulette Weible said.
"It literally is a circle," Bob Weible said. "They do anything we ask of them and we'd do anything it took to keep them going."
For more information on Search Dogs South, click here.
For more information on Kelsey K-9 Medical Center, click here.