CPR for Dogs

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Finding a pet unconscious is a surprise no one wants. Acting fast in these situations is your best chance at saving your beloved animal. By doing some research beforehand and getting comfortable with life-saving techniques, you'll be better equipped to handle emergencies.

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. When you use CPR, you are manually pumping blood through the body of the unconscious. A pooch with no pulse will be unable to breathe, so you'll have to simulate that as well. While most of their organs are in similar spots to ours, a dog's body is a bit different in size and shape from their human counterparts. Because of this, it's important to learn the different steps that need to be taken to save a pupper in distress!


Step 1: Check for Vitals

If you come across an unconscious pooch, it's important to determine if he's breathing or not. If no breaths are being taken, it's time to check for a pulse. You can find a dog's pulse at the top insides of the back legs, in the center of the front feet or on the chest cavity near the heart. If you're feeling no signs of life, there's one more thing to try before you begin CPR. Stick your fingers down the canine's throat to check for any object that could be stuck inside. If you find nothing, it's time for step 2.


Step 2: Position the Dog

Now this step isn't the same for all puppers. Big, deep-chested dogs should be laid on their right side so their heart is closest to you. Dogs with round-shaped chests and small dogs may be laid on their backs if possible. If the dog is on its side, make sure you're positioned at the back of the animal, not the stomach. Try to move the dog's head so it is lined up with the spine. This will help air to flow freely as you supplement breathing.


Step 3: Compress the Heart

At this stage you're literally going to pump the dog's heart for him. For medium to big pooches, you can use one palm on top of the other, just as you would on a human. If the pup is small, however, it's better to just use you fingers cupped around the chest where the heart is. From there you're going to push down in quick, strong bursts 15 times. You then need to give two large breaths through the nose, making the chest rise with each puff. Repeat until you get the help of a professional. It's best to get someone to drive you to an emergency animal clinic while you keep administering compressions in the back seat.

If you do the compressions right, you'll probably feel a crack or two. Giving a dog CPR is likely to break one or more of his ribs, which is why you never want to try it on a healthy, conscious animal. Some sources also recommend giving your dog a big squeeze around the abdomen after each set of compressions to help with blood flow.


As long as you are supplying new oxygen to the body and moving it around, you are buying your dog time to receive life-saving help. That being said, if you've been giving CPR for over twenty minutes, the dog is most likely past the point of intervention. By learning the steps thoroughly, you increase the chance that you'll be able to act fast enough to give your dog a shot at recovery.