I sincerely hope this is not something you will ever have to do, but I believe knowing CPR is an important part of being a pet parent. Being able to deliver CPR to your pet in an emergency may help save their life, especially if you are some way from a veterinarian.
The first thing to check is that your pet genuinely needs CPR! CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which essentially means it is used to keep the heart beating and lungs breathing if the body has stopped doing this naturally.
If you let has stopped breathing the first thing you should do is check for a pulse. This can be done by feeling over their jugular vein on each side of the neck or by placing your ear to the left side of the chest. You should normally be able to hear a heat beat, or even feel it, just behind the elbow. If there is no heart beat proceed immediately to the compressions. If there is still a heat beat but no breathing follow these steps:
- Get someone to call your veterinarian and begin preparations to transport your dog or cat to the vet.
- Open the mouth and check for any obstruction. Wipe out the inside of the mouth with a cloth and use your fingers to check the back of the throat.
- Once cleared of obstructions move your pet so they are lying on their side (preferably right side down but don't waste too much time moving them). For barrel chested dogs, like a bull dog, we sometimes will position them on their backs to facilitate chest compressions.
- Extend their neck and head.
- For large dogs hold their jaw shut with one hand and cover their nostrils with your mouth, exhale to deliver them a breath. Watch their chest expand as you do this, you do not want to overextend the chest. For smaller dogs or cats you may be able to cover their mouth and nose with your mouth. Breaths can be delivered every ten seconds, but ensure you are checking their heart beat in between as many pets will go into cardiac arrest soon after respiratory arrest
No heart beat
If you have confirmed your pet has no heart beat these steps should be taken immediately if there is any chance of survival. All of the above steps should be taken first, but only administer one breath before beginning cardiac compressions.
- Place one or two hands in the middle of the chest just behind the elbow.
- Begin compressions, you want to compress the chest by 1/3rd, for small animals this may only require one hand but for large dogs you will need two hands.
- Ideally for cats and small dogs we want 120 beats per minute, but this can be very difficult so it is better to go as fast as you can while still performing the compressions adequately. For larger dogs around 60 beats over minute suffices, but again we often just administer beats as quickly as possible while still maintaining adequate compression.
We no longer stop compressions to give a breath, instead we have another person breath for the animal while we continue to compress the chest. Remember you will get tired quickly so have someone who can take over and swap every minute.
I hope this will help you if you ever have an emergency with your pet.
if you haven't already check out the rest of Pet First Aid series, and stay tuned for a bird fast aid presentation coming out soon.
Pictures shared from Cornell Veterinary University.