Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for Dogs

In case of emergency, do you know how to give your dog CPR to save its life? Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is normally used when you cannot hear or feel the dog’s heartbeat. Once the dog stops breathing, the heart will go into cardiac arrest and cease beating. While in-class training may be hard to find except for professionals, there are a wealth of resources available for responsible pet owners who want to learn.

But be careful; CPR is hazardous and can cause additional injuries to your dog including broken ribs, pneumothorax (also known as a collapsed lung), and overall stress to your dog’s body. As such, it should never be practiced on a healthy animal. There are also specific guidelines to follow depending on the size & weight of your pet.

Remember to follow the ABC order by checking the AIRWAY, BREATHING, and CIRCULATION.

Also, when checking a dog’s pulse, first locate the femoral artery, which lies just below the skin on the inside of the back legs, between two large muscles where the leg joins the body. Puppies usually maintain a pulse range of 120 to 160 beats per minute, while adult dogs have a lower rate of between 10 to 120 beats per minute.

Saving your pet with CPR (American Red Cross)

According to PetMD, for dogs weighing less than 30 pounds:

  1. Lay the dog on a flat surface with his/her right side against the surface.
  2. Cup your palms and hold the dog with one palm on either side above the heart region. (You can also place your thumb on one side of his chest and keep the fingers on the other side.)
  3. Compress the chest for one inch to one-quarter or one-third the width of the chest for a count of one and then let go for a count of one. Carry on at a rate of 100 compressions in a minute.
  4. If only one person is available, breathe into the dog’s nose once for every five compressions that are done. If two persons are available, give artificial respiration once every two or three compressions are done.
  5. Continue with the CPR and artificial respiration until the dog begins breathing on its own and the pulse becomes steady.

For dogs weighing more than 30 pounds:

  1. Lay the dog on a flat surface with his/her right side against the surface. (You will need to stand towards the dog’s back.)
  2. Put one of your palms on the dog’s rib cage, near the heart region, and put your other palm on top of it.
  3. Without bending both the elbows, press the rib cage in a downward motion.
  4. Compress the chest for one-quarter to one-third the width of the chest for a count of one and then let go for a count of one. Carry on at a rate of 80 compressions per minute.
  5. Close the muzzle with your hand before beginning artificial respiration. If only one person is available, breathe into the dog’s nose once for every five compressions that are done. If two persons are available, give artificial respiration once for every two compressions are done.
  6. Continue performing CPR until the dog begins to breathe and has a steady pulse.
  7. If the dog does not show any signs of improvement after 10 minutes of CPR, you can stop as it has not proven successful.


 

In a future post, we will discuss what to do if your dog is chocking and how to perform the canine Heimlich Maneuver.

For more information, please check out the following resources:
CPR for Dogs: a step-by-step guide to saving your dog’s life [Canine Journal]
CPR for Dogs [PetMD]
How to Check Your Dog’s Pulse [dummies.com]
Penn/Cornell research spearheads the development of new guidelines for veterinary CPR [Cornel University]

 

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