CPR for dogs is important if you care about your dog.
If you have a dog, it’s important to learn and remember how to perform canine CPR just in case of emergency. There are specific steps and procedures that you can discuss with your veterinarian to be prepared should a situation arise. Be sure that you DO NOT perform CPR on healthy dogs, or you can cause sever injuries including collapsed lung or broken bones. You may be able to find a class in your area for animal CPR and emergency training.
Here are the ‘ABCs’ of CPR for Dogs to remember:
A means Airway
In the event of a sudden emergency, softly open your dog’s mouth, pull its tongue out, and see if your dog is breathing. If you can, straighten your dog’s head and neck, without extending the neck, which may cause injury. Check your dog’s chest for signs of breathing and put your hand in front of its mouth to feel for exhalation.
If you are certain your dog is not breathing, you will need to perform mouth-to-snout:
- Hold your dog’s closed mouth up, with your hand cupped around its nose.
- Breathe two breaths directly into your dog’s snout.
- If you feel the breaths enter your dog’s snout, move on to Step 2.
If the breaths are blocked from entering, open your dog’s mouth and check to see if an object is blocking its throat.
If you see an object, press gently on your dog’s throat with an upward movement and try to remove the object. If there is no item lodged in your dog’s throat, perform the Canine Heimlich Maneuver.
Do not move on to Step 2 until your dog’s airway is cleared.
B means Breathing
If your initial two breaths went into your dog’s lungs, continue the mouth-to-snout process. Try to perform one breath every 3 seconds, averaging 20 breaths each minute. If your dog is large, use your full lung capacity to transfer breaths. Use shorter breaths on smaller dogs.
Remember to keep your hand clasped snugly around your dog’s muzzle while you breathe into its snout, keeping its mouth closed. Do not force air into your dog’s nose but breathe into the snout at a normal exhalation rate.
C means Circulation
When you have successfully established A and B, (or Steps 1 and 2), check your dog’s femoral artery to see if there is a pulse. You can also put your hand on the upper left side of its chest and feel for a heartbeat. If there is no pulse or heartbeat present, start chest compressions.
Lay your dog gently on its right side and locate the middle of its chest, where the left elbow touches the ribcage. This is where you will perform compressions.
If your dog is 16 pounds or less, use your thumb and forefinger to compress both sides of its chest. With larger dogs, you will use a palm over hand pose to compress. You should push down approximately 1.5 inches for each compression.
It is important to get the speed of compressions and breathing correct for CPR effectiveness.
- Perform compressions at a rate of 3 compressions every 2 seconds.
- Following each set of 15 compressions, perform two breaths.
If there is no abdominal injury, someone else can apply gentle pressure on your dog’s abdomen when the chest compression is released. The abdominal compression is an extra CPR step that may help prompt the return of blood flow to the heart.
Continue and repeat CPR steps as needed and keep checking for signs of pulse and breathing. Do not stop compressions unless you feel a pulse or heartbeat. Likewise, do not stop breathing unless your dog is breathing on its own. If you are driving your dog to an emergency clinic, try to continue CPR in the vehicle.