sealPurdue News

August 1998

First aid for dogs: Purdue professor writes the book

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Everything you need to know about being your pet's paramedic can be found in "Rescuing Rover" -- a new how-to book about first aid for injured dogs by Dr. Sebastian Heath.

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"I wanted to write a book that would make it easy for law enforcement officials with canine partners, professional dog handlers, disabled individuals with canine companions, and pet owners in general to quickly stabilize their dog following any serious injury," says Heath, assistant professor of veterinary medicine at Purdue University.

"Rescuing Rover" is a 64-page illustrated, hard cover book (Purdue University Press, ISBN: 1-55753-128-5, $12.95 U.S.) describing step-by-step methods anyone can use to get an injured dog to a "safe state" before transporting it to a veterinarian. The book will be available in late August at book stores and pet shops nationwide.

Heath originally prepared "Rescuing Rover" to show physicians how to care for search dogs injured during disasters. When Heath went to Florida in 1992 to treat horses injured during Hurricane Andrew, he noticed that the search and rescue teams on the scene were equipped to treat people, but when their search dogs were injured, the dogs were treated by a physician, not a veterinarian.

"A lack of 'on scene' veterinary care in disasters means that when these highly trained dogs cut their foot pads or inhale nasty things sniffing through rubble, they have to be treated by physicians," Heath says.

Now doctors and dog lovers alike can learn, through a series of detailed illustrations in Heath's book, how to bandage and/or splint common injuries suffered by house pets. Some of the traumas that are covered are lacerated paw pads, broken legs, eye injuries to dogs who hang their heads out of car windows, ears bitten during fights, and tails severed when doors swing shut on them.

"Just as with injuries to people, injuries to dogs are less likely to be fatal and more likely to heal faster with an immediate first-aid response," Heath says.

But the first page of "Rescuing Rover" shows owners how to temporarily muzzle and restrain even the largest of dogs with a piece of gauze and some tape before attending to their injuries. "Many animals -- even the sweetest of pets -- can be extremely aggressive when injured because they are confused and in pain," Heath says.

During the past three years, Heath has worked as a Federal Emergency Management Agency project coordinator to develop a course on disaster aid for large and small domestic animals. The Emergency Management Institute, with headquarters in Emmitsburg, Md., will publish his two-part independent study course "Animals in Disasters" this month. The first part of the course is geared toward veterinarians, pet owners and the general public. It addresses animal-related issues that may arise from different types of disasters. Part two of the course is geared towards emergency managers and veterinarians interested in developing community plans to treat animals after disasters.

For more information about "Rescuing Rover," contact the Purdue University Press at (765) 494-8251.

Source: Dr. Sebastian Heath, (765) 496-3102; e-mail:

Writer: Jeanine S. Smith, (765) 496-3133; e-mail:

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Softcover review copies of "Rescuing Rover" are available from Tom Bacher, director of Purdue University Press, (765) 494-8251.

Pet paramedics to the rescue! Mitzi the spaniel helps "Rescuing Rover" author Dr. Sebastian Heath and veterinarian Dr. Julia Allen demonstrate first aid for dogs. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)
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