Saving your pet with CPR

Can you perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on your dog or cat? This is every pet parent’s nightmare: to be in a frozen moment where you would need to save your pet’s life with CPR. As they say, it never hurts to be prepared. Learning pet CPR is just like training on adult and child CPR with the only difference in techniques attributing to the shape of the animal’s chest – and mouth, of course.

Without much ado, let’s first know when to administer and not administer CPR.

Well, cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a procedure primarily designed to restart the heart and lungs. Therefore, your pet only qualifies for CPR if they have no pulse and they’re not breathing. To confirm these two criteria,

  1. Check for visible signs of rising and falling of your pet’s chest. As you do this, take a good peek at their gums. Bluish, gray, pale, or white gums indicate poor circulation of oxygen. Also, the pupils tend to dilate when your pet suffers cardiovascular distress.
  2. Feel the femoral artery on the inside of the hind leg to find a pulse. Alternatively, you can feel their heartbeat, if there’s one, behind the left elbow of the front leg.

If your pet is unresponsive, that is, he is not breathing and has no pulse, then you can proceed to administer chest compressions. Otherwise, you risk injuring your pet.

Start chest compressions. 

Gently lay your dog or cat on its right side and place your hand over the ribs, right where the elbow touches the chest. Intertwine your fingers, palm down, and begin compressions. I can hardly stress this enough, do not give compressions if you feel a pulse.

Take care not to injure your pet by pressing too hard. If your pet is below 30 pounds, half-to-one-inch compression is enough but if they are above 30 pounds, go up to 3inches. Give 30 compressions and make sure the chest recoils before the next compression. However, if you panic and can’t recall, our vetsend veterinarians are just a call away to guide you through the procedure.

Give rescue breaths

For medium to large dogs, gently close their mouth and cover their nose with your mouth. Blow in the air until you see the chest rising. For smaller dogs and cats, cover their nose and mouth with your mouth. Do it twice.

Continue CPR

After each cycle, check for a pulse and breathing – if still unresponsive, repeat CPR until you get professional help.