Can You Give Your Dog CPR

Learning dog cprCPR is one of those talents that you never want to need, but can save a life with if you take the time to learn. It was the case for one dog owner whose Boxer collapsed during an obedience lesson in the park. She and her dog were lucky the trainer knew how to administer CPR to dogs because it saved her dog’s life.

As a dog owner, knowing the basics could at the very least improve your dog’s chances of survival if your dog were to stop breathing and you have to transport your dog to the vet. And we can never say enough how important it is to know ailments common to your dog’s breed so you are prepared if disaster strikes. As a dog trainer, being around so many dogs, knowing CPR could help you save a dog’s life. Either way, knowing CPR will help you remain calm in the event it is needed.

Before you need it, you should know some basic facts like how to find a pulse or heartbeat on a dog. While the easiest way to find it is to pull the dog’s front leg forward and place your hand in the “armpit” of the dog and feel the heartbeat. You can try to find the femoral artery that is located on the middle of the inside of the thigh near where the leg joins the body.

In the case of a dog in need of CPR you are just checking to see if the heart is beating, however it is good to know the normal rate for your dog. Normal ranges from 70 to 180 with larger dogs having a slower pulse. Puppies can have up to 220 beats per minute! Simply count beats for 15 seconds then multiply by 4 and don’t worry if the pulse is a little irregular, that is normal.

If a dog stops breathing, the first thing to do is call for help. If the dog does not respond to rescue breathing you will need someone to drive you to the vet while you continue rescue efforts.

The ABCs of CPR are Airway, Breathing, Compression. If the dog stops breathing you first check for an obstruction in the airway by pulling out the tongue and looking into the mouth/throat. If you see something dislodge it and begin rescue breathing if necessary. If there is no obstruction and the heart is beating start rescue breathing. Close the muzzle and be sure to align the head and neck so the airway is straight. On large dogs you will breath into their nose and on small dogs breath into the nose and mouth. Start with 5 rapid rescue breaths, being sure the chest lowers between breaths then maintain at the rate of 10 breaths per minute. You want to use just enough pressure in your breaths to see the chest cavity rise. Be sure it falls again before administering the next breath.

If the dog’s heart has stopped you will need put the dog, laying down, on it’s right side. This places the heart upward. Next you will place the heel of one hand over the heart with your other hand on top of the first hand locking them together with your fingers. Keep your arms straight and give 100 to 120 compressions per minute or one and a half to two compressions per second. You will press hard enough to lower the rib cage 1/3 to 1/2 of the chest width or about 2-3 inches on a large dog and 1/2-1 inch on small dogs.

After every 30 compressions you will administer two breaths then go back to compressions continuing that cycle through the 100 to 120 chest compression cycle. Check for a heart beat and breathing after each set of 100-120 compressions and change administers after every two minutes of compressions. There is discrepancy as to how long you should continue CPR. Some say after 10 minutes the dog is lost others say you can continue for 20 minutes if you are on your way to the vet.

No one wants to see a dog collapse, but with this simple knowledge you could save a life and increase the chances of survival if the dog does not revive and has to be taken to the emergency room. Click here for a PDF poster on CPR for dogs.