A lot of people consider their pets as members of the family. Just like any human, your dog or cat could face medical problems at some point in it's life.
Most people run straight to the vet when their furry friend is acting odd, but what if you could pre-diagnose your pet from home?
The Red Cross is known for helping out people in times of crisis. Now, they're taking on someone new with a Pet First Aid App.
"What if your dog had heat exhaustion, to what if your dog started having a heart attack, to choking. It's all in there and in a nice little app format," Tony Burke with the Sioux Empire Red Cross said.
Tony Burke with the Sioux Empire Red Cross says the new app is designed to not only educate pet owners, but also train humans on what to do in case of a medical emergency.
Features include quizzes, videos and a symptom checker that help owners know what to do next with their cat or dog.
"It gives you those indicators and it asks questions for you to check with your animal to see if those questions are being answered appropriately. If not, it's like ok, it's time to go to the vet," said Burke.
"The app I think generally is pretty good about going through a lot of that stuff. I think a little bit of education about what they can do to prevent things is really really useful for owners a lot of times," said Heitmann.
Dr. Jeff Heitmann with All City Pet Care South says while the app can be a great educational tool, he warns pet owners to not fully rely on it.
"There's a lot of things that we see on a day to day basis that just aren't easy things to pick up on. That's the thing that would be important for people to remember is that, while it gives you some information, it's still very important to consult with your veterinarian," Heitmann said.
Heitmann says this time of year, things like frost bite can be difficult to detect.
"It's a very good thing to keep in mind that when you're looking through an app and doing something like a symptom checker, there may be symptoms that you don't know about yet from the pet. And something that they're not telling you. Obviously because they have trouble with that," Heitmann said.
One feature Heitmann says would make vets lives a lot easier is the Record Holder section in the app.
"You can put all of your veterinary information in there. Where the closest emergency vet is. You can have information about your past history for your animals. And it can be all tracked in there as well," Burke said.
"There's a lot that's spent sometimes waiting for records to be faxed or sent. That's certainly something that would be very handy if the owners have that just right with them," Heitmann said.
It's this attention to detail and aiming to help out the animal world that Heitmann says is so exciting about the Red Cross' new initiative.
"We strive to keep our standards kind of keeping up with what human medicine is doing. And it's a challenge all of the time because sometimes you don't have that of support from some organizations. And so it's great to see that from an organization as well respected as the Red Cross is great," Heitmann said.
"Now more than ever before pets are becoming like children. They're furry and they're lovable and everybody really has them as their best friends. I think it's important that no different than grieving a loved one, a human being, you can be grieving a loved one, which is your animal," Burke said.
You can download this app for $.99 for your Android and iPhone devices by clicking the link or by searching "Pet First Aid Red Cross" in the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store.
You can find out more about Pet First Aid classes at the Red Cross website. Or by calling, 605-336-2448.