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CardioPulminary Resuscitation for Animals

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CPR for Dogs/Cats:

In both humans and animals, you must follow the ABCs: airway, breathing and circulation, in that order. If you suspect your pet is in distress, immediately look at his posture. Note the presence of blood, vomit or feces; his breathing pattern and other bodily sounds; and any materials, such as possible poisons, around him.

It is vital to know for sure that your pet isn't breathing or doesn't have a pulse before beginning CPR; it is dangerous to apply CPR to an animal (or a person, for that matter) if he is breathing normally and has a pulse.

Look for the chest rising and falling or place a mirror in front of his nose and watch for condensation. When checking for a pulse, remember that animals do not have a distinct carotid (neck) pulse. To determine if the heart is still beating, place your hand on the left side of the chest.


If your pet has stopped breathing, check to see if the throat and mouth are clear of foreign objects. Be careful about placing your fingers inside the mouth. An unresponsive dog may bite on instinct. If the airway is blocked, do the following:

  • Lay your pet down on his side.

  • Gently tilt the head slightly back to extend the neck and head, but be very careful: Do not overextend the neck in cases of neck trauma.

  • Pull the tongue out of your pet's mouth.

  • Carefully use your fingers to sweep for any foreign material or vomit from the mouth. Unlike CPR for humans, you can reach into the airway to remove foreign objects.

  • If necessary, perform the Heimlich maneuver.


    If your pet is breathing, allow him to assume the position most comfortable for him. If he isn't breathing, make sure the airway is open, and begin rescue breathing. Again, remember that even an unresponsive pet may bite on instinct.

  • Make sure the neck is straight without overextending.

  • For medium to large dogs, you will be performing mouth-to-nose breathing. Close the mouth and lips by placing your hand around the lips and holding the muzzle closed.

  • Place your mouth over the dog's nose. For dogs under 30 pounds, cover the mouth and lips with your mouth. Your mouth will form a seal.

  • Exhale forcefully. Give four or five breaths quickly.

  • Check to see if breathing has resumed normally. If breathing hasn't begun or is shallow, begin rescue breathing again.

  • For dogs over 30 pounds, give 20 breaths per minute.

  • For dogs less than 30 pounds, give 20 to 30 breathes per minute.

    Now check for a heartbeat. If no heartbeat is detected, begin cardiac compressions with rescue breathing.


    For most animals, chest compressions are best done with the animal lying on his side on a hard surface. For barrel-chested dogs such as bulldogs and pugs, CPR is best done with the animal on his back.

    Make sure your pet is on a hard surface. The sidewalk or ground should work. If the animal is on a soft area, chest compressions will not be as effective.

    For small animals (less than 30 pounds)

  • Place your palm or fingertips over the ribs at the point where the raised elbow meets the chest.

  • Kneel down next to the animal with the chest near you.

  • Compress the chest about 1 inch at a rate of twice per second. (Small animals have higher heart rates than people so compressions need to be more rapid.)

  • Begin 5 compressions for each breath. After 1 minute, stop and check for a heartbeat. Continue if the beat has not resumed.

    For animals 30 to 100 pounds

  • Kneel down next to the animal with the back near you.

  • Extend your elbows and cup your hands on top of each other.

  • Place your cupped hands over the ribs at the point where the raised elbow meets the chest.

  • Compress the chest 2 to 3 inches at a rate of 1.5 to 2 times per second.

  • Begin 5 compressions for each breath. Check for a heartbeat after 1 minute and continue if none is detected.

    For animals over 100 pounds

  • Perform CPR as you would for large pets.

  • Compress the chest about once per second.

  • Apply 10 compressions for each breath. Check for a heartbeat after 1 minute and continue if none is detected.

    Perform CPR until you have reached a veterinary hospital. After 20 minutes, however, the chances of reviving an animal are extremely unlikely.


    CPR for Newborn Puppies/Kittens:

            If a puppy is born and is not breathing, follow the
    cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) directions outlined below. Have one person contact your veterinarian for help.

    1.)      Clear the airway. Hold the puppy's head downward to
    allow gravity to help drain fluid from the mouth, throat, and lungs. Use a suction bulb to remove any fluid from the airway.

     2.)      Give two or three little puffs of air into the puppy's
    mouth and nose. In order to do this, your mouth needs to close around the puppy's mouth and nose. Do not give large breaths, as the puppy's lungs can be easily damaged. Be aware that some diseases such as Brucellosis may result in weak or dead puppies and may be transmitted to humans through contact with the puppy or fluids.

    3.)    Check for a heartbeat; feel the chest wall between your
    fingers or use a stethoscope. If no heartbeat is found, compress the
    chest in the area right at the back of the bent elbow. This is the
    approximate location of the heart. Press the chest between the thumb and forefinger. Compress quickly. Remember a newborn puppy's normal heart rate is 120-180+ beats per minute.

            Every 15-20 seconds, give another couple puffs of air.

            Each minute check for a heartbeat/breathing. If the heart is
    beating slowly, stimulate the puppy by rubbing it roughly (but carefully) with a towel, turning it over in your hands, or holding it by its
    scruff. This puppy needs stimulation and may need you to give it a few breaths of air in order for it to live. Continue to work with this puppy for 20 minutes to see if it can be saved.

            If the heart is not beating, continue the CPR for about 5
    minutes. If the puppy is not alive and active by then, it is unlikely the
    puppy will be saved.