Is your cat breathing normally?
There’s an app for that – for knowing what’s normal, that is.
Is your dog not breathing?
Hopefully you will have watched the dog CPR video on the American Red Cross’ new mobile app called “Pet First Aid.”
The app, available for 99 cents on Apple and Android mobile devices, went on sale in December.
The humanitarian agency collaborated with University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Since 2006, Deborah C. Mandell, a staff veterinarian and adjunct associate professor at the Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, has served as a pet care adviser to the Red Cross, writing separate books on first aid for cats and dogs, and developing Red Cross instructional courses for pet owners around the country.
Mandell said the app gives users information “right at your fingertips when you need it,” such as knowing “what’s normal so they can know what’s abnormal much sooner.”
For anybody who wants in-depth information about pet first aid, however, “the app is certainly not a replacement for our first aid books,” Mandell said.
Several pet first aid apps have been available since 2009, when Jive Media launched an app.
Red Cross officials said its organization’s reputation, and its association with Penn Vet, should be an advantage in the marketplace.
Unlike the Jive Media app, which costs $3.99 and hasn’t been updated since 2010, the Red Cross app separates information about cats and dogs.
“You could look at it as two apps in one,” said Paul Munn, who helped develop the app for the Red Cross.
The app also uses GPS to locate the nearest veterinary hospital or pet-friendly hotel during emergencies.
Users can enter information about their pets that can be stored in the app and emailed to a veterinarian ahead of a visit. There also are quizzes to test if users remember what they’ve learned.
“They’ve done an excellent job,” said Mary Kury, a certified veterinary technician supervisor at the Quakertown Veterinary Clinic, who downloaded the app recently. “They went through the most common emergencies we see on a daily basis.”
She also praised the app for providing “enough information without giving too much information,” so a pet owner is not overwhelmed or confused.
The Red Cross has been offering apps since June 2012, when it launched its first aid app for humans, and has tallied 3.9 million downloads for all its mobile apps. They also have been offered for free.
Red Cross spokesman Don Lauritzen said the pet app was a bit outside the main mission of the organization.
The Red Cross decided users would feel that 99 cents is worth the cost for the specialized information and peace of mind, Lauritzen said.