CPR for dogs: Let’s always be prepared
As devoted pet parents, we take all kinds of efforts to ensure that our babies are healthy and happy. We take care of their diet, their exercise and their over-all well-being. So isn’t it important for us to be prepared if there ever is an emergency? Sometimes getting access to a vet may take time or might be completely impossible altogether. In such a case, all pet parents should be familiar with basic life-saving procedures.
For example, if your dog stops breathing or if they have no heartbeat, you will need to act fast! The lack of oxygen to their organs as well as their brain can cause serious, irreparable damage. Brain damage is known to occur within 4 minutes of respiratory failure! So time here, is of crucial importance.
CPR or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation consists of combining artificial respiration with chest compressions. Chest compressions are given so that the blood can keep circulating in the body as the heart is not able to. Please note that performing CPR on a dog that is healthy and breathing can cause fatal damage to their health!
Step 1: Before Starting CPR
The first thing you need to do if you see your dog in distress, is to call for help. Call your trusted vet or an emergency medical centre right away! They can help guide you in the right direction. In the meanwhile, you need to start assessing the situation. The dog might have collapsed but the first thing you need to do is determine whether they are breathing! If the dog is breathing, CPR is not required.
- Lay the dog on a flat surface. Ensure that their right side is touching the surface.
- Watch their chest carefully. A dog should normally take between 20 – 30 breaths a minute.
- If you see no movement, place your cheek against the dog’s nose to feel for air.
- Check the colour of their gums. If they are bluish or not the normal pink, it is an indication of lack of oxygen.
- Check to make sure their airway is clear. Extend their neck and head and open their muzzle wide to locate any foreign object. Grab their tongue and pull it outward to get a better view and to try and dislodge any object stuck in the throat. You can also make use of your fingers or any tongs or pliers. The Heimlich manoeuvre should be used here if everything else fails.
Step 2: Artificial Respiration
- By pulling the tongue forward, aligning their head with their back and tilting it back a little, you can help open the airway.
- Use one hand to hold the muzzle shut. It’s crucial that you prevent air from escaping through their mouth.
- Cover their nose completely with your mouth and blow gently. You will be able to see their chest expand here. For smaller dogs and cats, blow gently and for larger breeds blow in air with more force.
- Wait for the air you have blown into their nose to leave the lungs.
- You should give them one breath every three seconds, up until the time they resume breathing on their own or the heart starts beating. Be sure to monitor them for signs of the same.
Step 3: Begin Chest Compressions
If there are still no signs of a heartbeat, then you need to combine artificial respiration with chest compressions. It is generally advised that two people give CPR where one can focus on the respiration, while the other focuses on giving chest compressions. Here, alternate one breath with three compressions. If you are just one person who is performing CPR, then you should use one breath for every five compressions.
- Find the heart. Lay the dog or the cat on their side. The heart can be located in the lower half of the chest (on the left side) behind the elbow of the front left leg.
- Put one of your palms on the rib cage near the heart and place your other palm on top of it. For puppies and kittens, place your thumb on one side of the chest and the rest of your fingers on the other side. You can compress the chest about an inch.
- For larger breeds of dogs, place one hand on top of the other right over the widest portion of the rib cage and not exactly over the heart. You can compress the chest one fourth of its width.
- Without bending your elbows, press the rib cage in a downward motion.
- Compress the chest for the count of one and let go for the count of one.
- Check periodically if the dog or cat has resumed breathing.
Most medical sources state that if breathing does not resume 15 minutes after applying CPR procedures, then the chance of survival of the animal in question is nil to none. Please speak to you reliable medical practitioner about this as well as about CPR and how you can be trained for it. We have outlined the basic steps in this procedure and as mentioned earlier, every parameter varies depending on the size, age and health of your pet. So it is necessary to educate yourself about this life-saving procedure. You never know when it can come handy!
Happy pet parenting!