Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
(CPR and Rescue Breathing)

"Pet First Aid" Bobbie Mammato of The Humane Society of the United States and The American National Red Cross, advises:

CPR is the method used to treat an animal who is not breathing or has no heartbeat. It consists of rescue breathing (also called mouth to nose/mouth resuscitation) and chest compressions. CPR is based on three basic principles, called theABCs of CPR. You must follow the ABC order (Airway, Breathing and Circulation) when attempting CPR.

Even when performed by an experienced veterinarian, CPR does not always work. Don't be discouraged if your attempt fails, but know that you did try to save an animal's life.

A = Airway

Does the animal have an open airway? (The airway is the passage the animal breathes through. Check to see if the throat and mouth are clear of foreign objects.) If the answer is YES, go to Breathing. If the answer is NO, you need to open the airway. Do the following:

  1. Lay the animal down, on either side.
  2. Gently tilt the head slightly back to extend the neck and head.
  3. Pull the tongue between the front teeth
  4. Use your finger to check for and remove any foreign material or vomit from the mouth.

Do not place your fingers inside the mouth of a conscious animal - you may be bitten!

B = Breathing

Is the animal reathing? If the answer is YES, allow the animal to assume the body position most comfortable for them. Then, move on to Circulation. If the answer is NO, do the following:

  1. Open the airway (see A = Airway)
  2. For medium and large dogs, seal the mouth and lips by placing your hands around the lips, gently holding the muzzle closed. For cats and small dogs (less than 30 pounds), your mouth will seal the mouth and lips.
  3. Place your mouth over the animal's nose and forcefully exhale.
  4. Give four or five breaths rapidly, then check to see if your pet is breathing without assistance. If the animal begins to breathe, but the breathing is shallow and irregular, or if breathing does not begin, continue artificial respiration until you reach the veterinary hospital or for a maximum of 20 minutes. (Beyond 20 minutes there is little chance of reviving your pet.)

Do not attempt this on a conscious animal

Use the following breathing rates:

  • Small dog (under 30 pounds) or cat: 20-30 breaths per minute.
  • Medium or large dog (over 30 pounds): 20 breaths per minute.

C = Circulation

Is there a heartbeat or a pulse? If the answer is NO, perform chest compressions. Do the following:

Small Dog (Under 30 Pounds) or Cat

  1. Lay your pet down, on the animal's right side.
  2. Kneel next to your pet with the animal's chest facing you.
  3. Place the palm of one of your hands over the ribs at the point where the elbow touches the chest. Place your other hand underneath the right side of the animal
  4. Compress the chest 1/2 - 1 inch (your elbows should be softly locked during compressions).
  5. Chest compressions are alternated with breaths.
  6. If working alone, do five compressions for each breath, then check for a pulse.
  7. If there are two people, one person does the breathing while the other does the compressions at a rate of three compressions for each breath, then check for a pulse.

Medium to Large Dog (30 to 90 Pounds)

  1. Stand or kneel with the animal's back towards you.
  2. Extend your arms at the elbows.
  3. Cup your hands over each other.
  4. Compress the chest at the point where the left elbow lies when pulled back to the chest
  5. Compress so the chest moves about 1-3 inces with each compression
  6. If workign alone, do five compressions for each breath, then check for a pulse.
  7. If there are two people, one person does the breathing while the other performs the compressions at a rate of two or three compressions for each breath, then check for a pulse.

Giant Dogs (Over 90 Pounds)

  1. Use technique for medium and large dogs.
  2. If working alone, do ten compressions for each breath, then check for a pulse.
  3. If there are two people, one does the breathing, while the other performs the compressions at a rate of six compressions for each breath, then check for a pulse.

Do not assume there is no heartbeat or pulse simply because an animal is not breathing .Do not start chest compressions before checking for a heartbeat. (If the animal is conscious and responds to you, then the heart is beating).

Continue CPR until the animal has a strong heartbeat and pulse, or until you reach the veterinary hospital, or until 20 minutes have passed and your efforts have not been successful.

CPR can be performed on the way to the veterinary hospital, as long as there are at least two people present (one to drive).

Pet First Aid: Cats and Dogs The Humane Society of the United States and The American National Red Cross Bobbie Mammat, DVM, MPH, pgs 51-52, ISBN 1-57857-000-X, 1997

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