How to Perform Dog and Cat CPR

CPR, also called Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a form of first AID used when there is no longer a heartbeat. Performing CPR on dogs and cats can increase their chances of survival, though the success rate even among professionals is low. CPR should only be used if necessary and never on a healthy animal with a heartbeat (even if unconscious). Using CPR on a healthy dog or cat can cause physical complications and fatal damage. 

Performing CPR

1. First, try and see if you can get a reaction from the animal by calling their name, and check if they are breathing. You can check for breathing by looking for chest movements. If you are trained in finding a heartbeat, feel if you can detect one. If you are not trained in finding a heartbeat in dogs and/or cats, searching for one is not necessary, as it will delay CPR. Make sure that the animal is in cardiopulmonary arrest and not just unconscious by confirming they are not breathing. This total process should not take more than 10 to 15 seconds. Begin with CPR compressions if you don’t see any chest movement and the animal stays unconscious. Make sure to call for help either before starting CPR, or during. 

2. Chest compressions need to be given at a rate of 100 – 120 per minute. Compress 1/3 to 1/2 the width of the animal’s chest. Before doing the next compression, make sure that the chest fully comes back, and make sure to not lean on the animal. Start with giving 30 chest compressions followed by 2 mouth to snout ventilations.

  • For round chested dogs (like Labradors), medium, and large dogs, chest compressions are given on the highest point of the chest. The animal needs to be on their right side on a flat, stable, and hard surface. Position yourself behind the animal.
  • For keel chested dogs (like boxers and greyhounds), small dogs and cats, chest compressions are given right on the heart. The heart is located at the point where the elbow meets the chest. You can locate this point by pushing the elbow back on to the chest. The animal needs to be laying on their right side on a flat, stable, and hard surface. Position yourself behind the animal.
  • For flat chested breed dogs (like the French bulldog or Pug) the animal needs to be turned on their back, and compressions need to be given over the widest part of the sternum.

Hand position

The hand that will be on the dog needs to be flat with the fingers spread out. Your second hand needs to be placed over the first hand, while locking and grabbing between the fingers of your other hand. Lock your elbows and make sure your shoulders are directly above your hands.

Dog and Cat CPR

Exception for:

For puppies, kittens, and very small dogs and cats, lay the animal on its right side with their chest facing you. Put your left hand under the animal’s chest, the palm of your hand needs to be behind the elbow of the animal. Place your right hand to the opposite of your left. For very small animals you can also use your thumbs instead of your hands. 

3. To give mouth to snout ventilations, pull the animal’s tongue forward slightly and make sure there are no obstructions in the mouth. Close the animal’s mouth tightly and extend their neck. Cover their nose with your mouth and exhale. While exhaling, look or feel at the animal’s chest, once it rises stop exhaling. Keep in mind that our long capacity is bigger than our pet’s. Do this 2 times.

4. After 2 mouth to snout ventilations, go back to compressions. The cycle should be 30 compressions, 2 breaths, 30 compressions, 2 breaths etc. It is important to do at least 2 minutes of uninterrupted CPR. Check every 2 minutes if you can detect breathing, consciousness, or a heartbeat. Checking for this should not take more than 5 seconds.

5. Continue compressions until the animal breathes and has a heartbeat again, or until you reach a veterinary hospital, where they will take over the emergency care.

Dog and cat CPR

A first AID skill that will benefit every pet owner. Performing CPR on a pet that hasn’t got a heartbeat anymore, will increase their chances of survival. Through this article, we hope to have informed pet owners what they can do when their pet is in cardiopulmonary arrest. Because the safety of our fur clients is our priority, all our pet sitters and dog walkers are knowledgeable about pet CPR and know how to perform CPR on pets. If you would like more information about our pet sitting, dog walking, pet relocation or dog training services. Feel free to contact us, our team will be happy to help. 

infographic CPR

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