CPR can be used on pets that have no pulse or have stopped breathing. Just like with human CPR, pet CPR involves chest compressions and mouth to nose breathing (instead of mouth to mouth). You may be able to save your pets life, so print out these instructions and stick them on the fridge or with your first aid supplies, in case of emergency! Remember, CPR even in the hands of professionals, does not always revive an individual.
The steps of pet CPR:
If you find your pet with no pulse or not breathing, always place a call for help or have someone else call for help while you begin CPR. Call your veterinarian at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-3573. Have your veterinarians number with your other emergency numbers listed near a phone in your home.
Remember your ABC’s, Airway, Breathing and Circulation.
First ensure your pet has an open airway. Try to see if there is an obstruction in your pets mouth, be very careful as pets may try to bite in reflex. Hold the upper jaw with one hand and push down on the lower jaw with the other hand. If you can see an object, try to remove it. If you cannot remove the object and have a small dog or a cat, hold them with their face toward the ground and your arms around their lower abdomen and gently sway them. If the object is still stuck, lay them on a hard surface on their side, with one hand stabilizing their back, use your other hand to press in and up under the center of the rib cage in a thrusting motion (essentially performing the Heimlich maneuver). For a large dog you will likely need to use both hands to press with. You can also stand or kneel behind a large pet and wrap your arms around them to perform the maneuver.
If your pet is not breathing, but still has a pulse, you can begin mouth to nose breathing. For large pets, hold the muzzle closed and seal your mouth over their nose. For small pets, form a seal with your mouth over their mouth and nose at the same time. Be careful to not blow too much air into your pet, especially with a small pet, you may cause lung damage if you over inflate. Watch their chest rise to ensure you are getting air in. Give 4-5 quick breaths then check for breathing. Pets should receive around 20 – 30 breaths a minute.
Check for a heartbeat or circulation. At your pets next physical exam with a veterinarian, ask to be shown how to check your pet for a pulse. It is a good time to practice while your pet is healthy and active. It is typically checked on the femoral artery, in the inner rear leg about half way from the body to the knee. If there is no pulse begin chest compressions. Place the pet on a hard surface lying on their right side. For small pets you will squeeze the chest with both hands, by placing one hand over the ribs where the pets elbows would touch the chest if they were standing, and the other beneath the right chest wall. Perform 5 compressions to 1 breath. For medium to large pets, compress with both hands cupped over the ribs where the pets elbows would touch the chest if they were standing, ensure your arms are straight, elbows locked, and that your body is squarely over your hands. Again, compress at a rate of 5 compressions to 1 breath.
We hope you never have to use CPR on your pet, but it is a good skill to know how just in case! For more information on pet CPR, or for help finding your pets pulse, contact Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-3573 or visit us on Facebook!
You can also take a course in pet first aid, which covers pet CPR by visiting http://www.prairietrainingservices.ca/pet-first-aid.html.
SPCA of Texas. “Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs.” Web March 2, 2015. http://www.spca.org/document.doc?id=100.
Hill’s Pet Tales Monthly Newsletter. “CPR Can Save a Dog’s Life – Information from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.” January 2010. Web March 2, 2015. http://www.hillspet.ca/newsletters/Canada/Assets/2010/January/Dog/CPR_Can_Save_a_Dogs_Life_Hills_Pet_January_eNewsletter_English.pdf.