Young man hugging his schnauzer dog.

When it comes to a pet emergency, an owner is undoubtedly more effective when they know what to do, and how to handle every scenario. Learning how to perform CPR on a dog is one of the best decisions an owner can make to prepare themselves for the unexpected.

What Is CPR?

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, combines chest compressions with artificial respiration. If a dog loses consciousness for any reason, they may stop breathing and experience cardiac arrest. CPR helps to keep the blood pumping through the heart until you can get them medical attention.

Is It Safe?

Performing CPR on a dog is a last-ditch effort to save their life. Because it can be equally dangerous and difficult, you should only use rescue breathing and chest compressions when critically necessary.

It can be traumatic to perform CPR on a dog to which you feel emotionally close. It’s not easy to approach a life-threatening situation with a sense of calm. However, the more level headed you are, the better. 

Learning CPR On a Dog

The following is a step-by-step guide to initiating and performing CPR on a dog:

  • Confirm the dog’s lack of breathing by feeling the chest for inhalation and exhalations. You can also place your hand near the nose to confirm there is no breath. CPR on a dog should be done only when he or she is not breathing.
  • Check for a pulse on the inside of their wrist or ankle. Do not proceed if there is a pulse. If the gums are blue and the pupils are dilated, those are signs there is no pulse.
  • Move the dog so they are situated on their right side. Barrel-chested dogs should be placed on the back.
  • Gently grab the dog’s head, extend their neck and tilt their head backwards. Check for possible obstruction in the airway. 
  • Once you confirm the airway is clear, start CPR with chest compressions. The heel of one hand is placed right over their heart. The other hand goes on top of the other. Barrel-chested dogs require chest compressions on the sternum.
  • Pressing in to approximately ⅓-½ the width of the chest, aim for 100-220 compressions per minute. 
  • Rescue breathing commences after about 30 chest compressions. Lift the chin and lengthen the throat with one hand, while the other hand wraps around the muzzle to keep the jaw closed. Bend down and cover the nose with your mouth. Blow air gently into the nose. Watch the chest rise with air.
  • Blow into the nose again after the chest completely falls. 
  • Try to achieve 30 compressions, 2 breaths.
  • Check for a pulse and natural breathing every 2 minutes.
  • Keep the pattern going.
  • Continue CPR on a dog until there is a steady heartbeat and normal, independent breathing.
  • Tag in another person if/when necessary.
  • If there’s no sign of improvement after 20 minutes, stop CPR.
  • Bring your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

We Are Always Here For You

No one ever wants to face a situation in which CPR must be performed on a dog. If your dog has experienced a life-threatening emergency, it’s always a good idea to have them checked out afterwards. Please call us at (610) 589-5019 with any questions or concerns. We are always here for you at Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital.