Dog CPR Basics: An Owner's Guide

Dog CPR or Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation is a process of providing oxygen and blood circulation for your dog that is not breathing and has no pulse. This can happen if your dog has gotten something lodged in his throat. It can also happen if your dog has been knocked out by a blow to the head. Dog CPR should only be performed after determining your dog is not breathing and does not have a pulse. Here are steps you can use to perform dog CPR.

Check Breathing and Pulse

  • Lay your dog on his right side.
  • Determine if your dog is breathing by placing your cheek or the inside of your forearm in front of your dog's nostrils.
  • Feel for your dog's exhale.
  • Observe your dog's chest rise and fall with his breathing.
  • Your dog's pulse can be checked easiest at his femoral artery, which is on the inside of his thigh on its left rear leg.

Obtain Open Airway

  • Gently pull your dog's tongue straight out and lift the chin parallel to his neck. Look inside the dog's mouth for any obstructions. Use your finger to clear out any debris.
  • Attempt 2 rescue breaths. To do this, hold your dog's mouth closed and place your mouth over his nostrils. Breathe directly through your dog's nostrils. Observe his chest rise with your breath and take care to not over inflate your dog.
  • If you are able to observe your dog's chest rise, continue to the next step. If not, reposition your dog's neck and attempt 2 rescue breaths again, observing the chest rise and fall with the breaths.
  • If the rescue breaths are successful continue to the next step.
  • If not, search inside your dog's mouth and throat for anything that might be blocking the airway. Clear out any visible debris with your finger.
  • If you cannot open the airway do not perform dog CPR and proceed to the Heimlich maneuver.
  • Perform Rescue Breaths and Compressions
  • Perform 12 rescue breaths at the rate of 1 breath every 5 seconds.
  • Begin chest compressions.
  • Position yourself kneeling with your knees against your dog's spine.
  • Lean over your dog with 1 hand on top of the other, fingers interlocked, and elbows locked open.
  • Place your hands over your dog's heart. His heart can be found at the point where his left front elbow touches his chest.
  • Compress your dog's chest 15 times followed by 2 rescue breaths.
  • Recheck breathing and pulse.

Continue 15 compressions and 2 rescue breaths as needed.

Seek Veterinary Assistance

As soon as you get a pulse and breathing re-started, take your dog into your veterinarian as soon as possible to check for any damage sustained, as well as the cause of the collapse if that is unknown. It is also helpful to have this data entered in your pets veterinarian records in case a related issue comes up in the future.

Here is a Checklist to Follow:

  1. Check for breathing and pulse
  2. Check for open airway, and clear if necessary.
  3. Attempt 2 rescue breaths. If unsuccessful, recheck airway
  4. Continue only if airway is cleared and two rescue breathes are successful in getting air into your dogs chest. Refer to Heimlich maneuver if unsuccessful.
  5. Continue by performing 12 rescue breaths at 1 breath every 5 seconds.
  6. Begin compressions, 15 times, followed by 2 rescue breaths.
  7. Re-check for breathing and a pulse.
  8. Continue 15 compressions and 2 rescue breaths as needed.
  9. Contact your veterinarian.

Dog CPR and dog first aid classes may be available in your area.