If unable to seek veterinary care during an emergency, CPR may help.

How do I perform CPR on my pet?

In the event of an emergency always contact your veterinarian immediately. If unable to seek veterinary care right away CPR may help.

If your pet is nonresponsive or unconscious, meaning they do not respond to you calling their name or a gentle shake, you may need to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Both human and pet CPR utilizes the ABC process – Airway, Breathing and Circulation. Once you determine your pet is nonresponsive, begin CPR immediately.

Airway – The first step is to obtain an open airway, do not proceed any further without an open airway. If the pet is not breathing place him on his side, straighten the head in line with the neck and extend the neck. In cases of head and neck trauma, do not over straighten the neck. If the tongue is rolled back in the mouth, gently pull it straight out to attempt to open the airway. Holding the mouth closed, give two mouth to nose rescue breaths ensuring no air escapes between your mouth and the pets nose. If you see the rise and fall of the chest and the breaths go in with no problem continue on to the next step. If the breaths will not go in, reposition the neck and try two more breaths. If no luck, the pets airway may be obstructed and the Heimlich may be necessary. Before performing the Heimlich maneuver, visually inspect the mouth and throat for foreign objects occluding the airway. Remove objects that may be obstructing the airway and repeat the two rescue breaths. If no object is detected yet the rescue breaths do not initiate the rise and fall of the chest proceed to the Heimlich maneuver.

Heimlich – Turn the pet with its back against your chest. Rap your arms around the pet and place a fist just below the rib cage. With both arms give five thrusts or bear hugs to the abdomen, for cats and small dogs only use one hand. Check the mouth and throat again for an object, remove if visible and give two mouth to nose breaths.

Breathing – Once an open airway is established and you have verified that the pet is breathing you may begin CPR. Give twelve mouth to nose breaths, one every five seconds. With each breath the chest should rise, do not over inflate the lungs, especially in smaller animals. Proceed to circulation while continuing breathing support.

Circulation – If there are bleeding points, gain control by applying pressure with your hand. Carefully check for a pulse near the groin, where the inside of the rear leg meets the abdomen. Lay the pet on its right side with its back towards your knees. Place two hands where the left elbow touches the chest, this should be about the middle of the rib cage. For cats or small dogs use one hand to squeeze the chest. Compress the chest fifteen times followed by two rescue breaths. The size of the pet determines the depth of compressions. Repeat the cycle of compressions and breaths as needed.

Throughout the entire process it is imperative that you protect yourself. Even an unresponsive pet may bite. Transport the pet to your veterinarian or a veterinary emergency clinic as soon as possible. Inform the veterinary office that you are on your way with a pet suffering respiratory and/or cardiac arrest. Details as to the cause will be important so inform the staff of incidents of poisoning, electrocution, drowning, existing medical conditions or any other occurrences. This is simply a brief outline of CPR and by no means replaces professional training. Certification in pet CPR is available through organizations like the American Red Cross

Groves Veterinary Clinic will be holding a free pet safety class on Saturday April 10th starting at 10AM at which time CPR will be discussed further in addition to recognizing signs of distress, taking vital signs, responding to emergencies, contents of a pet first aid kit and microchipping. To register for the pet safety class call 391-5251.