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Rescue Him Again: CPR for Your Pets

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
4 years ago

Note: This blog is not meant to replace the training and advice of a medical professional. I hope you find these tips helpful, but to be most effectively prepared, please consider taking a pet first aid class in your area. Your vet may be able to refer you to an organization that offers classes in your area.

Every pet parent dreads the day their pet passes away. Sometimes we see it coming. Sometimes we don’t. Some medical or environmental conditions can cause your pet to stop breathing or his heart to stop beating.  He may have swallowed something that’s stuck in his throat or suffered heat stroke. He may have an undiagnosed medical condition. Your pet may even experience a seizure that could cause sudden collapse. What will you do in this situation? Here are some tips to keep your best friend breathing and pumping blood until you reach veterinary help. 

Note: These tips are applicable to both cats and dogs unless otherwise noted. For simplicity, I will use “dog” in the following.

Artificial Respiration
If your dog has suddenly stopped breathing but his heart is still beating, begin artificial respiration immediately. You may recognize this as “mouth-to-mouth” in human terms. This is not the time to be prudent about germs or slobber; your dog needs help.

  • First, lay your dog on his side on a flat surface.
  • Make sure that your dog has stopped breathing. Performing artificial respiration when your dog is still breathing can worsen the situation. Watch for the rise and fall of the chest. Feel for breath on your hand (or hold your phone screen to his nose/mouth to see if it fogs). Check his tongue; it can turn blue from lack of oxygen.
  • Clear the airway. Extend your dog’s neck so that his throat is straight and accessible. If you can see an object stuck in his throat, grab his tongue and pull it outward. If the object won’t budge, use your fingers, pliers, or other tool to get a good hold on it. If you still can’t access the object, use the Heimlich Maneuver for pets.

Only when the airway is clear should you begin rescue breathing. Your dog should still be on his side on a flat surface.

  •  Lift the chin to straighten his throat. Wrap one hand around his muzzle to hold his mouth shut.
  • Place your mouth over your dog’s nose and blow just enough to see his chest expand (blow harder for large dogs, gently for cats and small dogs). Wait for the air to leave the lungs before breathing again.
  • Administer one breath every 3 seconds until your dog breathes on his own or you can access medical assistance.

If your dog’s heart has stopped, there’s no time to lose. To keep his heart beating until he revives or help arrives, you must begin CPR immediately. But there are some small differences between CPR for large dogs and small dogs or cats.

Note: If possible, it’s best to have one person perform artificial respiration while another performs CPR.

Dogs Under 30 Pounds ( Also use these instructions for cats)

  • Lay your dog on her side on a flat surface.
  • Place your palm on her rib cage directly over her heart and your other hand on top of it, the same as you would for a human patient.
  • Push down on your dog’s chest approximately one inch and repeat at a rate of 80-100 beats per minute, quickly and firmly. Repeat until your dog’s heart begins beating on its own. If your dog’s heart begins beating but she’s not breathing, monitor her heart rate closely while continuing artificial respiration.

Dogs Over 30 Pounds

  • Lay your dog on her side on a flat surface.
  • Place one hand on top of the other over the widest portion of the rib cage, not over the heart.
  • Keeping your arms straight, push down on the rib cage. Compress the chest ¼ of its width. Squeeze and release rhythmically at a rate of 80 compressions per minute.
  • Continue CPR until your dog breathes on his own and has a steady heartbeat.

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