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CPR and your Dog

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to do everything you can, to ensure you give your dog the best chance of survival after experiencing a medical emergency.

If your dog has a cardiac arrest, which means their heart stops beating, and in turn they stop breathing, would you know what to do?

You might say it’s all good…..I have a Vet down the road; my daughter is a Vet; my son is a Vet Tech…..and this may be so, but if your dog suffers a cardiac arrest, you literally only have 3 to 4 minutes before it is too late to save them.

The only way your dog has a chance of survival is if you administer CPR immediately; and continue to provide CPR until you hand your dog over to advanced life support such as a mobile emergency Vet or to the Vet surgery.

What is CPR?

CPR is Cardio pulmonary resuscitation; it is a medical response to cardiac arrest.

CPR involves a combination of continuous cycles of compression of the dog’s chest and the administration of expired air from your mouth into their nose, otherwise known as artificial respiration (AR).

The purpose of CPR is to manually assist with blood circulation and oxygenation and the goal is to preserve your dog’s life until advanced life support can be sought.

It is recommended that all dog owners undertake training in artificial respiration and cardo pulmonary resuscitation

1Check Airway:

When you open your dog’s mouth can you see anything blocking the airway?

You need to provide the best chance of air getting into the dogs lungs when delivering artificial respiration (AR).

Is there something lodged in the airway, is there food or vomit.

  • If there is something stuck in their throat use a pair of tweezers, forceps or swipe your finger to help remove.

  • Make sure you do not push the object deeper into throat.

2Check breathing:

There are a number of ways to determine if your dog is breathing:

  • Look for the rise and fall of the chest;

  • Listen for breath sounds by placing your ear up against their mouth; or

  • Wet your finger and place near dog’s nose to see if you feel air

If breathing is present, do not do CPR

3Check circulation (heart beat):

  • Feel for a pulse.

  • Check for pulse at femoral location (place two fingers in the groove between the muscles of inner thigh to feel pulse).

If a pulse is present, do not do CPR. If no pulse begin CPR.

If you know what your dog looks like when they are well then you know what it looks like when they are not!

Begin CPR

  1. Lay dog on their right side, on a flat firm surface; straighten neck gently to extend airway.

  2. Pull the tongue forward so that the end of the tongue slightly sits past the front teeth and softly close the mouth.

  3. Keeping the mouth closed and the neck straightened, place your hands around the snout and your mouth over the nose creating a secure seal.

  4. Provide 2 breaths.

Consider the size of the dog; when providing breaths, you want the chest to rise and fall to mimic the natural rise and fall of your dogs breathing.

Follow the rule for human CPR:

  • Adult – X Large dog,

  • Young Adult – Med Dog,

  • Child - Small dog; and

  • Baby - puppy)

  1. Place palms of your hands where your dog’s left elbow touches chest when elbow is bent (approximately middle of ribcage).

  2. For smaller dogs and puppies, you can use the one-handed technique:

  3. Wrap your hand around the sternum directly over the heart and squeeze.

For barrel-chested dogs (e.g. bulldogs), lay dog on back.

  1. Push the chest down ¼ to ⅓ of its depth at a speed of 100–120 compressions per minute.

  2. After every 30 compressions, pull tongue forward so tongue pokes out between front teeth; hold the mouth shut (make sure it’s completely closed), hands around snout, and deliver 2 rescue breaths; then return to compressions.

  3. Repeat until dog is breathing on its own; is handed over to the vet; or when you are physically unable to continue.

Small dog: Compress 1.3 cm (½ inch) Medium dog: Compress 2.5 cm (1 inch) Large dog: Compress 3.8 cm (1.5 inch)


Canine Emergency First Aid guide

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