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How to do CPR on a dog

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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. 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 entail? From a biological standpoint, it 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. 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 it 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.

    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.

Of course, one quick article isn’t enough to fully educate a person for CPR. We advise you to look up further information on places such as PetMD. We also hope you never find yourself in a situation where you need to know how to do CPR on a dog. But if you do – good luck!

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