Your dog has stopped breathing. You have a first aid kit with you, and a cell phone, but you’re too far from an Emergency Vet Clinic to get your dog there in time. If only you knew what to do to save your precious pup’s life!
This would be an incredibly scary situation for any pet owner to face. Being prepared for an emergency situation means not only having the supplies necessary but also the know-how.
Today, in part 2 of our “Are You Prepared for an Emergency?” segment I will be going over what you need to know to be able to perform CPR on your dog in the event of an emergency. While this is important information for all pet owners to know, it does not replace one-on-one pet first aid training!
Let’s get started, shall we?
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is the combined procedure of chest compressions and artificial respiration used to revive an unconscious dog. Chest compressions are used when no heartbeat is felt or heard. CPR is required in most life threatening situations because when the breathing stops, the heart usually stops soon after.
CPR or Artificial Respiration may be required in the following situations:
- Prolonged seizure
- Choking (obstructed airways)
- Head injury
- Electric shock
- No heartbeat/ No breathing
While CPR can be performed by one person, it is much easier (and usually more successful when done by two; one person does the artificial respiration, the other person does the chest compressions)
Before beginning either procedure you must first check to see which one (or both) are needed. To remember this, all you need to know are your ABC’s!
A: Airways-In this step you’re going to check for blockages in the airways.
B: Breathing & C: Circulation– In these steps you’re going to check if the dog is breathing. If the dog is not breathing, you’re going to check for a pulse. If you DO find a pulse, but the dog is not breathing you will starts Artificial Respiration. If you DO NOT find a pulse you will start CPR. (You can find your dog’s pulse by feeling for the femoral artery which can be found on the inside of the mid-thigh.)
It is important to know where and how to find a pulse on your dog. You don’t want to wait until an emergency situation arises to be searching for it. Go find your dog now, and practice finding where his/her pulse is most easily found.
How To: Artificial Respiration
Lay your dog on a flat surface on his right side. Open his/her mouth and pull the tongue forward as far as you can. Clear any saliva, mucous or other secretions. Check for airway blockages of foreign bodies. If there are any, remove them. If it is not possible for you to dislodge them you will perform the Heimlich Maneuver (described later on, below).
Pull tongue forward, close the dog’s mouth. For medium or large dogs, seal the lips by placing your hand around the dog’s snout to prevent air from escaping.
- Place your mouth over the dog’s nose. Blow gently into the dog’s nostrils. This should make the chest expand. If this does not make the chest rise and fall, blow more forcefully.
- Release your mouth to let the excess air escape the lungs via the dog’s lips. This will prevent the lungs from overinflating and over-distension of the stomach.
- Continue at a rate of 20-30 breaths per minute (one breath every 2-3 seconds) for small dogs under 30 pounds, and a rate of 20 breaths per minute (one breath every 3 seconds) for dogs above 30 pounds.
- Continue until the dog can breathe on its own.
How To: CPR
As mentioned earlier, CPR is a combination of Artificial Respiration (above) and chest compressions. If a dog needs chest compressions then it also needs artificial respiration. but, if the dog resists CPR then he probably doesn’t need it!
For puppies and small dogs under 30 pounds:
Place dog on a flat surface, right side down.
- Cup your hands and place on either side of the rib cage over the heart, immediately behind the point of the elbow.(For puppies, use your thumb on one side of the chest and the rest of your fingers on the other).
- Compress the chest 1- 1.5 inches. Squeeze for a count of one, then release for a count of 1. Continue this process at a rate of 100 compressions per minute.
- If you are performing CPR by yourself (without a 2nd person) administer a breath after every five compressions. If you have a partner helping you, give a breath every two to three compressions.
For medium and large dogs:
- Place the dog right side down on a flat surface, with yourself positioned behind its back.
- Place the heel of your palm over the widest portion of the rig cage, not over the heart. Place the heel of your second hand on top of the first, as you would when performing CPR on a human.
- Keeping your elbows straight, push down firmly on the rib cage. Compress the chest 1/4 to 1/3 of its width. Compress for a count of 1, then release for a count of 1. Continue this process at a rate of 80 compressions per minute.
- If you are performing CPR by yourself (without a second person), administer a breath every five compressions. With two people performing CPR, give a breath every two to three compressions.
- Continue CPR until the dog breathes on its own and has a steady pulse. If vital signs do not return after 10 minutes of CPR, the likelihood of success is slim.
Note: As this is a life saving procedure for emergencies, there may be complications resulting such as broken ribs or pneumothorax.
NEVER practice artificial respiration or CPR on a healthy dog as you can seriously harm him, or her. Consider practicing on a stuffed animal plush toy instead.
Lastly, in the case of a foreign object lodged in the throat that cannot be removed, one must perform the Heimlich Maneuver. If the dog is simply coughing and is not having difficulty breathing, rush him to the nearest vet. If he is having difficulty breathing or has collapsed, perform the following:
The Heimlich Maneuver
Abdominal Compressions- Hold the dog upside down, with its back against your chest, its head high, but facing down. Place your arms around the dog’s waist from behind. Make a fist and grasp it with the other hand. (For smaller dogs, you may only have to use two fingers.) Place your fist (or fingers) in the dog’s upper mid-abdomen close to the top of the V formed by the rib cage. Compress the abdomen by forcefully thrusting up and in (like the shape of a J ) four times, quickly, one after another. This will push the diaphragm up and force a burst of air through the larynx, usually dislodging the object.
Finger Sweeping- Pull out the tongue and sweep the mouth for the foreign object. If you are able to remove the object skip to step 5.
Artificial Respiration (See top of page)- Give five mouth-to-nose respirations. Every little bit of air getting through is important. Proceed to step 4.
Chest Thumps– Give a sharp tap with the heel of your hand to the dog’s back (between the shoulder blades). Repeat the finger sweeps. Continue steps 1 through 4 until object is dislodged.
- Vital Signs-Once the object has been removed, check your dog’s vital signs. Make sure he is breathing normally and that he has a pulse. Perform Artificial Respiration or CPR if necessary. When the dog is revived, take him/her to the Vet immediately for further check up.
If you would like to review the procedures above, you may find this video tutorial helpful.
Here’s hoping you never have to use any of what I’ve taught you today!!
Thanks for reading!
Emily & Bachaesh