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How to Give CPR to a Dog or Cat

Accidents happen, and sometimes it's our pets that get in trouble. They can drown, choke, get electrical shocks, lose consciousness, stop breathing, etc.  If something like this happens, it's good to know how to give CPR to a dog or cat. Giving CPR to a dog or a cat is very similar to how we do it in humans. If your pet is unconscious, check for breath. Watch their chest or feel for breath or check the gums, which will turn blue from lack of oxygen.

(check the video at the bottom)

1. The first thing you have to do to perform CPR on a dog or cat is lay them on their right side on a flat surface and extend the head and neck to form an airway. Then check for obstructions. They might have swallowed something that got stuck in their throat.

Be aware that dogs have little bones at the base of their tongue that can be confused with a foreign object. Do not try to remove or force anything out unless you can see it.

-If it's a small dog or a cat, hold him upside down and shake him to try to remove the object.  Be careful if you try to use your fingers, because you might push the obstruction further down.

-If it's a large dog, pull their tongue outward and see if this action dislodges the object. You can try using pliers to remove the obstruction, again, being careful as to not push the object further down.

You can perform the Heimlich Maneuver on the dog or cat and try to dislodge the foreign object.

If there are no obstructions and the air passage is clear:

2. Give them artificial respiration.

With a small dog or cat, you can cover their nose and mouth with your mouth and blow air into them. Give short and shallow breaths every three seconds, just hard enough to make their chest rise until they start breathing on their own.

With a large dog, hold the muzzle to hold the mouth shut. Put your mouth on the nose, covering it completely, and blow gently into their nostrils. The chest should rise. Use longer and deeper breaths every three seconds until they start breathing on their own.

Constantly check their pulse. You can try feeling the heart beats on their chest, or check for a pulse in the inner side of the thigh, near the junction of the leg to the body. The pulse of the femoral artery can be difficult to feel in cats. Use your index and middle fingers, not your thumb.

3. If there's no pulse, start chest compressions.

On large dogs, lay them on their side and give the compressions placing one hand on top of the other over the widest portion of the rib cage, not the heart. On a smaller dog or cat, place your hand on the rib cage over the heart and the other hand on top. On a puppy or a kitten, put your thumb on the chest and compress, being very careful not to use excessive force.

The rate of compressions depends on the size of your pet:

If they are over 60 lbs, give 60 compressions per minute.
From 11 to 60 lbs, give from 80 to 100 compressions per minute.
Less than 10 lbs, give 120 compressions per minute.

Alternate breaths and compressions. Just like a human, you should give 30 compressions, 2 breaths. Continue the process until you can get the animal to respond or to start breathing on its own.

As soon as the dog or the cat responds, bring him or her to the vet immediately.

Watch the following video to see an example of how to give CPR to a dog or cat