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Standards Are the Cat's Meow during Pet First Aid Awareness Month


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having a pet in your household can have a positive impact on your health by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels; increasing exercise, outdoor activity, and socialization; and decreasing loneliness. And the majority of Americans are cashing in on these creature comforts: the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook (2007 edition) reports that fifty-seven percent of American households have at least one pet, accounting for the U.S.’s 72 million pet dogs, 82 million pet cats, and millions of birds, horses, and other critters.

That’s a lot of precious paws. And to help keep them safe and sound, the American Red Cross is celebrating National Pet First Aid Awareness Month. This annual April event is aimed at increasing Americans’ basic knowledge of emergency first aid and proper pet care. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is proud to promote the standards that allow us to keep our furry friends as healthy and happy as they help to keep us.

Among its recommendations for pet health maintenance, the Red Cross advises owners to take all animals to a veterinarian for a yearly checkup. And just like a doctor’s visit, vet appointments often begin with the taking of a temperature. A standard from ANSI audited designator ASTM International assures that the thermometer used is up to the job. ASTM E667-98(2009), Standard Specification for Mercury-in-Glass, Maximum Self-Registering Clinical Thermometers, specifies requirements for mercury-in-glass, reusable, maximum self-registering clinical thermometers of the types commonly used for measuring body temperatures of humans and of animals. The included requirements pertain to bulb and stem glasses, mercury, legibility and permanency of markings, dimensions, temperature scale ranges, graduations, stability, ease of resetting, retention of temperature indication, and accuracy of scale reading.

Pet owners have probably heard of "kennel cough" - a designation for a variety of contagious illnesses that animals can contract through the close quarters of a kennel or veterinary clinic. And while generally very treatable, the best medicine is prevention, through the effective disinfectant of all common surfaces and objects. An International Standard from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO 15883-1:2006, Washer-disinfectors Part 1: General requirements, terms and definitions and tests, specifies general performance requirements for washer-disinfectors and their accessories that are intended to be used for cleaning and disinfection of re-usable medical devices and other articles used in the context of medical, dental, pharmaceutical, and veterinary practice. This standard was developed by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 198, Sterilization of health care products.

ANSI-accredited standards developer the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) serves as the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 198. The standard was adopted with national deviations by AAMI and approved as an American National Standard (ANS), ANSI/AAMI ST15883-1:2009.

While the majority of vet visits are strictly out-patient, there are occasions when a pet may have to be left in the care of the facility for an overnight stay. Whether it's for routine neutering or an unexpected illness, Spot's hospital stay will be safer and less stressful - for man and dog alike - thanks to a standard from ANSI audited designator the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA 150-2009, Standard on Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities, 2009 Edition, is intended to both improve the health and welfare of animals and protect human life and property. It specifies safety requirements for all types of animal housing facilities where animals are kept for any purpose, including barns, stable, kennels, animal shelters, veterinary facilities, zoos, laboratories, and racetracks.

Let's face it: the biggest downside to pets is probably their…backside. But, thankfully, standards don't just throw us to the dogs when the going gets tough. A document from ANSI-accredited standards developer CSA America, Z317.10-09 (Update #1), Handling of waste materials in health care facilities and veterinary health care facilities, specifies requirements for the packaging, collection, handling, storage, and on-site treatment and disposal of waste materials within health care and veterinary health care facilities. Enough said.

It's an age-old question that can inspire endless heated debate: Are you a dog person or a cat person? But whether you prefer your non-human companions to have four legs and fur, fangs, feathers, scales, gills, bills, beaks, or (gasp) antennae, standards are there to assure the health and safety of all of man's best friends. To learn basics of lifesaving animal care, visit the Red Cross website.

Pet Health Basics

Follow these recommendations from the American Red Cross to help your pets stay safe:

  • Get your pet spayed or neutered.
  • Give your pet plenty of exercise - your pet will feel better and live longer.
  • Make sure your pet always has plenty of fresh, cool water, especially in hot weather.
  • Get to know a veterinarian and bring your pet in for yearly checkups.
  • Make sure your pet is up to date on vaccines, especially rabies.
  • Know how to perform CPR and to provide basic first aid until veterinary care is available.
  • Don't forget to include your pet(s) in any home emergency action plans.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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