CPR for dogs

Basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the treatment necessary to save a dog’s life when he has stopped breathing.

Basic CPR: Rescue breathing

Make sure the dog is unconscious

Talk to the dog softly, rubbing and shaking him gently to try and wake him up. Only when you are certain he is unconscious should you begin rescue breathing. If he is just deeply asleep, you could be seriously injured if you started rescue breathing and he woke up disoriented.

Clear his airway

Extend his head and neck, trying to keep them aligned. Open his mouth and pull his tongue forward. Clear the mouth of any saliva or vomitus. Use your finger to be sure that you get the mouth and throat completely clear. Do not begin rescue breathing until you are sure the airway is clear; otherwise you run the risk of pushing foreign matter down the dog’s windpipe.

Check for effective breathing

Sometimes, merely getting the dog’s head and neck in proper alignment will help him begin breathing spontaneously. Watch for his chest to rise and fall and listen for sounds of breathing. If you can’t see clear evidence of breathing within 10 seconds, begin rescue breathing.

Begin rescue breathing

In medium and large dogs, pull the tongue forward and hold the mouth and lips shut using both of your hands cupped around his muzzle. Place your mouth over his nose and blow air through his nostrils until his chest expands. Do the same thing with a small dog, but your mouth will seal his nose and his mouth. Exhale four or five rapid breaths and see if he begins breathing on his own. If he does not begin to breath, or if his breathing is irregular or shallow, continue with the artificial respiration until you reach the veterinarian’s office.

You should average 20 to 25 breaths per minute in a small dog (under 30 pounds), and 12 to 20 breaths in medium and large dogs (over 30 pounds). Every few seconds, depress the stomach area to expel any air that may have gone into there. The pressure from a distended stomach renders the rescue breathing less effective.

Even if you are able to resuscitate the dog, he should still receive a check-up by a veterinarian to determine if his body has returned to normal with no lasting damage.

As you’re driving the dog to the vet’s office, have someone call ahead to alert the staff that you are coming in with an emergency, so you don’t waste a minute.

Source: Adapted from the Veterinary Information Network