Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to Give CPR to Your Dog

CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. Knowing how to administer CPR to your dog could come in handy if an emergency were ever present. For your dog's sake, I certainly hope not, but better safe than sorry. If your dog ever stops breathing and/or their heart stops, time is a huge factor and action should be taken immediately.

First, let me tell you about the ABC's of CPR.
  • Airway - Always check to make sure the dog's airway is clear of any debris. 
  • Breathing - Next check to see if the dog is breathing. 
  • Circulation - Check that the dog's heart is still beating. 

A - Airway

After this quick assessment, you can begin performing the necessary life-saving tasks. Sometimes, a dog may stop breathing if their airway is blocked, so removing any sort of blockage can help your dog start breathing immediately in some cases.

B - Breathing

If you cannot find anything blocking the dog's airway and they are not breathing, then you can begin to breath for them. Do this by holding their mouth shut firmly and breathing into their nostrils every 5 seconds. It is important to make sure that their chest is moving when you do this. If it is not, then you should try to check again for a blockage of the airway. If their chest does move when you breath into their nostrils, then you can open their mouth afterwards so that they can exhale.

C - Circulation

If the dog has no heartbeat, then you need to perform chest compressions in conjunction with artificial respiration. This task would be done best with two people. Lay the dog down with his right side down and left side up. Remember that the heart is on the left side of the body, just like humans, and that side needs to be closest to where the compressions are being performed. Place your hand on the ribcage right behind the dog's elbow. Place your other hand on top of the first hand and begin to apply firm pressure. More pressure for larger dogs, and less pressure for smaller ones. Do these compressions a total of 10 times. If the dog is still not breathing, give him/her a breath again.

Repeat the pattern of 10 chest compressions followed by one breath until you can reach a veterinarian. A vet can help by intubating the dog and breathing for him with an oxygen machine, administer medications to start the heart again (epinephrine), start intravenous fluids to help with circulation of the bloodstream, and more.

Unfortunately, CPR on any animal is only effective an extremely small percentage of the time. This includes when it is performed by a veterinarian and medical staff. That small percentage is still enough to know that you might be able to help! I hope these tips on how to give CPR to your dog have come in handy for dog owners and I also hope that you never need to use them.

Thanks to my CPR model, Shiner!


  1. This was a very important post. Thank you for sharing! Mom has a black lab mix at home and this will come in handy if she ever needs to give him CPR!!
    Shriner is a cutie :) purrrs xx

    1. Glad you found it useful! Thanks for reading =)


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