Giving a dog CPR? It might sound silly or downright impossible because of the shape of dogs’ mouths. But it is definitely possible, and is a great skill that every dog owner should have in case of an emergency.
Why learn dog CPR?
According to Peteducation.com, when a dog loses consciousness, there is a chance he will go into respiratory arrest—ceasing to breathe—which is often followed by cardiac arrest and death. By performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), you can stop this chain of events.
What is CPR?
CPR is comprised of artificial respiration and chest compressions.
How to perform artificial respiration
Time is of the essence if your dog has stopped breathing or if his heart has stopped beating. It is best to start performing CPR immediately in either of these cases, and it is much easier and more effective if you have two people working as a team: one doing the chest compressions and the other doing artificial respiration. So think about learning doggie CPR with a spouse, one of your children, or another family member.
Here are the steps to take when CPR is needed:
- Put your dog down on his side on a flat surface.
- Find out whether your dog has really stopped breathing. You can figure this out by checking the gums—they may have turned blue from lack of oxygen. You can also check to see the dog’s chest rising and falling, and feel for breath with your hand.
- Make sure the dog’s airway is clear. You can do this by extending the dog’s head and neck and opening his mouth wide. If there is an object lodged in the throat, grasp the tongue and pull it forward. If this technique doesn’t work to get the object out, you can use your fingers, pliers or tongs to try to get it.
- Then start artificial respiration. With your pup on his side, lift his chin. Then hold his mouth shut, forming a seal around his nose and mouth.
- Blow gently into the dog’s mouth, just enough to make the chest rise a little. Blow more softly for smaller animals and harder for larger ones.
- Wait for the air to leave the dog’s lungs and then repeat.
- Continue this process, giving a breath about every three seconds, and keep going until the animal breathes on its own or the heartbeat stops. After you stop, continue monitoring the heartbeat.
How to perform cardiac resuscitation
Here are Peteducation.com’s tips on performing cardiac resuscitation, which should happen simultaneously with pulmonary resuscitation.
According to the Daily Mail UK, you can check for a dog’s heartbeat by feeling for the beating of an artery in a dog’s back leg. This is the cylindrical femoral artery.
Keep the animal on its side. For small dogs (under 30 pounds), place one hand on the ribcage over the heart and the other hand on top of the first. For puppies and kittens, place your thumb on one side of the chest and the rest of your fingers on the other side. Then compress the chest about one inch, squeezing and releasing at about 80 to 100 compressions per minute.
For larger dogs, position your hands on the widest part of the ribcage. Compress the chest about one quarter of its width, doing about 80 compressions per minute, until the dog has a steady heartbeat.
Combining the cardiac and pulmonary forms of resuscitation, you will do about one breath for every five chest compressions.