How to do CPR on a dog

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If you may be wondering how to do CPR on a small dog, here is a quick introduction. CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is something that we’ve all seen in movies. Most of us have been taught how to do it at some point in our lives. There are even dogs trained to do CPR but not all of us are aware of how to do CPR on a dog, however.

Thankfully, situations, when you need to do something like this for your canine, are not very common, but they do happen. So, what exactly does CPR on a puppy entail? From a biological standpoint, dog CPR works on the same principle as human CPR:

  • “Artificial respiration”, or blowing air into your dog’s lungs.
  • Chest compressions in case of a cardiac arrest.

Both of these can be essential for saving your dog’s life. When you are not confident on how to give a dog CPR  however, both can also be dangerous if done incorrectly or unnecessarily. The additional complication is that, while CPR works on the same principle for dogs as it does for humans, the way you should perform dog resuscitation is different. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide:

  1. Call your vet or an emergency animal hospital. CPR isn’t meant to always just save your dog, it’s meant to save him for long enough for help to arrive.
  2. If you have a car and someone to drive it, get the dog in the car and perform the CPR there while driving to a hospital.
  3. Determine whether or not the dog is breathing.
  4. Check for a pulse. You need to know whether to do a full CPR or just artificial respiration.
  5. Put the dog on his back (or on his right side for bigger dogs) and pull his head back. This will open his airways.
  6. To make sure that the airways are open, you should also open your dog’s mouth and check for vomit, blood, mucus, food or any other foreign materials.
  7. Hold the dog stable with one hand on either side.
  8. With your free hand (or both, for a bigger dog), compress the dog’s chest just above the heart. Be firm but gentle – don’t bend your elbows. You don’t want to be ineffective, but you don’t want to break a rib either. Use the base of your palm.
  9. Compress the chest for one third or one-quarter of the chest’s width. Count to one and let go. Carry on with 80 – 100 compressions per minute.

    dog cpr
    Source: Laughlin AFB
  10. Artificial respiration is done by breathing into the dog’s nose. If you’re alone, do it once every 5 compressions. If there’s two of you – once every 2 – 3 compressions. Hold the dog’s mouth firmly closed so no air escapes from it. The breathing should be strong enough to fill up the dog’s chest. If there is no cardiac arrest (the dog has a pulse), you should only focus on the artificial respiration and do 20 – 30 breaths per minute.
  11. Continue the compressions and the respiration until the dog starts breathing and his heart starts pumping again. Both should start at the same time.
  12. If you’ve been doing CPR for over 10 minutes and the dog’s still not breathing (and if you’re not close to getting professional help) you can stop – it’s too late.

Related: Heroic Pit Bulls

Signs Of A Dog In Need Of Emergency Care

There are a number of different scenarios entailing when a dog is in need of emergency care. It should be obvious to the owner, and sometimes, even someone not familiar with dogs may be able to tell. Common causes are heatstroke and choking, but here are just some additional pieces of advice that should be able to help determine when something is wrong:

  • Seizures
  • Pale Gums
  • Hasty Breathing
  • Difficulty in Standing
  • Unconscious
  • Excessive Bleeding
  • Abnormal Behavior

To avoid further harm and injuries, it is best to call for help when these behaviors are noticed. As mentioned before, CPR and other emergency care performed by an improperly trained amateur are just temporary “emergency” measures, and it would be better to call for professionals immediately. If possible, you may take the dog directly to a veterinarian if the case doesn’t seem to be completely critical yet. Some better yet, advise bringing a dog’s first-aid kit in case of emergencies.

Of course, one quick article isn’t enough to fully educate a person on how to perform CPR on a dog. We advise you to look up further information on places such as PetMD on how to give a puppy CPR and on how to resuscitate a puppy. There’s no need to do CPR on a dog, we just hope you never find yourself in a situation where you need to know CPR dog rescue. But if you do – good luck!

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