Would you know what to do if you found your dog unconscious or not breathing?
Have you ever wondered what to do if your dog suddenly collapsed in the middle of the park – would you know how to give your pet the best chance of survival? Many people in this situation would panic, or possibly try to adapt what they know about giving human CPR.
However dogs aren’t quite like us.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about CPR for dogs and how to hopefully save their life.
How do you know if a dog needs CPR?
Human safety always comes first, so ensure you approach with caution.
Firstly, you’ll need to check for:
- Response – do they respond at all when you call their name or touch them? If not, they are unresponsive.
- Breathing – is their breathing normal? If they are not breathing, they need help.
- Absence of a pulse or heart beat – the easiest way to find this is by feeling their femoral artery in the upper inside thigh. Alternatively, it may be possible to feel their heart beating by putting your ear to their chest.
It can be surprisingly difficult to evaluate these three signs, and the simplest way is to do three other rapid checks. Just remember ABC, as you’ll need to check their:
- Airway – carefully ease their head back to open their airway and remove anything obvious blocking the airway.
- Breathing – check to see if they are breathing
- Circulation – check if they have a pulse.
This quick assessment is very quick and should take no more than 15 seconds to complete.
CPR for dogs
If the dog’s airway is clear, they aren’t breathing, and the colour of their gums isn’t a healthy pink colour (indicating that the circulation is not functioning normally) and they have a blueish tinge to them instead, then immediate CPR is needed, to give them a chance of survival.
Firstly, turn the dog onto its right hand side.
If they have a pulse, you should start with up to 5 breaths into their nostrils – in many cases this is all that is needed to re-oxygenate them and bring them back to life.
If there is no pulse then you start with 30 hard and fast chest compressions.
When to start giving CPR to an animal?
Immediately give chest compressions, as studies have shown that the longer chest compressions are delayed, the less likely they are to survive.
How to give chest compressions to animals?
Push hard and fast, 30 compressions, followed by a couple of breaths.
Where to give chest compressions on a dog?
Look at the above poster to see where you should be applying chest compressions for different shaped dogs. Chest compressions should be done with the animal lying on their side, aiming to compress the chest to 1/3–½ of its width, at a rate of 100–120 compressions per minute. It’s important to pull back after each press to let the chest rebound fully, rather than keeping the chest in the compressed position.
Want a Free Dog CPR Course?
To learn more – and to give yourself the extra confidence you may feel you need – please click here for our free dog CPR course
Happy dog walking!
First Aid for Pets provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for veterinary advice. The author does not accept any liability or responsibility for any inaccuracies or for any mistreatment or misdiagnosis of any person or animal, however caused. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid for Pets course or take our online course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.