Dog CPR – What You Need to Know!

dog CPR

Dog CPR, or canine cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is exactly like that carried out on humans. If a dog has stopped breathing, you can perform CPR and resuscitate it by getting its heart and lungs to start working.

The quicker you can perform CPR on a dog that is not breathing, the less damage is likely to have been done. A complete recovery is also possible, as long as the animal’s brain wasn’t deprived of oxygen for too long.

dog cpr choking

In this guide, we tell you how to perform dog CPR. 

How to Perform Dog CPR – Step-by-Step Guide

If a dog has been involved in an accident, is unconscious, has stopped breathing, and you aren’t able to detect any heartbeat or pulse, you need to perform dog CPR.

how to do cpr on a puppy

Step 1 – Remember your ABCs

  • A- first clear the obstructions from the airways. 
  • B- gently breathe air into the dog’s lungs.
  • C- use chest compressions to restart the heart.

Step 2 – Clear the Dog’s Airways

 Position the dog on its right side.

Be careful when you do this, as even an unresponsive dog might bite instinctively. 

Open the dog’s mouth and look inside for debris or obstructions. If there is a stick or a tiny piece of bone, you can remove it with tweezers.

  • If it is a small dog, you can hold its hind legs and gently shake it 2-4 times in a downward motion.
  • For a larger dog, support its head and lift its hind legs into a wheelbarrow position.

These steps should clear the airways. Note that this step is not mandatory if the animal’s airways are clear.

Step 3 – Get Another Person to Help

In the ideal scenario, two people should perform dog CPR: one to initiate chest compressions, and the other to inhale air into the dog’s lungs.

If there is no one around to help, you’d need to do both of these tasks on your own.

Step 5 – Perform Chest Compressions

  • For small dogs weighing less than 25 lb or 11 kg, place the flat part of each of your hands around the widest part of the dog’s chest, just below the elbows. Compress the chest at a rate of 120-150 times a minute by pressing down simultaneously on both sides.
  • For medium to large dogs, place the palms of both hands directly over the heart. This is the area on the left side of the chest, – approximately where the elbow meets the rib cage. Perform the compressions at a rate of 80-100 per minute.

For all dogs, apply the compressions in a cough-like manner to facilitate a rapid increase and decrease in chest pressure.

For dogs in cardiac arrest, apply artificial respiration as indicated in the next step. 

Step 6 – Apply Artificial Respiration

puppy cpr

Hold the dog’s muzzle closed and give mouth-to-nose resuscitation for 12-15 breaths by closing your mouth over the dog’s nose. Administer slow, deep breaths. Keep an eye on the dog’s chest to ensure that air is indeed getting into its lungs.

If the dog’s chest is not rising, there may be an obstruction preventing the air from reaching the lungs. Follow the second step above to remove obstructions and clear the airways.

If two people are present, one should provide respiration, and the other should perform the chest compressions.

If you are alone, you can alternate between chest compressions and artificial respiration by doing 10-15 compressions followed by deep breaths in the dog’s mouth every 15 seconds. Alternatively, for smaller dogs, you can give one breath after six compressions, and for medium to large dogs, give two breaths after every 15 compressions.

Stop chest compressions briefly every 30-45 seconds to see if the heartbeat has returned. If a dog has a pulse but is not breathing, only perform artificial respiration.

Step 7 – Take the Dog to the Vet

When carrying out Dog CPR, as soon as you get a heartbeat, please take your dog to the nearest pet clinic.

Dog CPR video demonstrating how to resuscitate your dog.

FAQs – Dog CPR

Do you CPR a dog on the right or left side?

The ASPCA recommends placing the dog on its right side for CPR.

Is Dog CPR painful for dogs?

If a dog does not have a pulse or heartbeat and isn’t breathing, CPR chest compressions won’t be painful for it.

Does CPR on dogs break ribs?

Yes, dog CPR could cause additional injuries to the animal, such as broken ribs, collapsed lungs, and other damage.

How long does it take to do CPR on a dog?

You may perform 15-30 compressions, alternating with 2 rescue breaths, and check for a heartbeat every 2 minutes.

Is it worth doing CPR on a dog?

In some cases, and when done properly, dog CPR could save a dog’s life. Studies show that 6-8% of pets’ lives can be saved with this procedure. 
However, dog owners must understand that CPR is not a cure-all procedure. It is an emergency procedure that may save a dog’s life, but it can also be quite hard on a pet’s already weakened body. CPR can also cause further damage in the form of collapsed lungs and broken ribs in some pets.

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Hi! I’m Tres! I’m passionate about dog behaviour and training. My dog training methods are effective for all breeds and goals. I have trained dogs for protection, obedience, manners, loose leash walking, crate training and have solved common behaviour problems such as reactivity, barking, separation anxiety and more. Let’s connect, sign up to my free newsletter (above) for helpful tips and upcoming training events.
dog trainer Sydney
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Hi! I’m Tres! I’m passionate about dog behaviour and training. My dog training methods are effective for all breeds and goals. I have trained dogs for protection, obedience, manners, loose leash walking, crate training and have solved common behaviour problems such as reactivity, barking, separation anxiety and more. Let’s connect, sign up to my free newsletter (above) for helpful tips and upcoming training events.
dog trainer Sydney

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