CPR for dogs

Performing CPR on a dog

Many people have some sort of knowledge of first aid to treat a human victim in an emergency situation but much fewer have any training or knowledge in first aid for their pets. Having some understanding of CPR for dogs may just save the life of your pet once in their life or multiple times throughout their lives. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a combination of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions that delivers oxygen and artificial circulation to an animal or person whose heart has stopped. 

While the information below is not a fully comprehensive guide for dog CPR, it does outline the basics of what needs to be done.


While there is some disagreement between professionals about the best position for the dog to be in while performing CPR, (some believe the dog should be in the supine (on their back) position while others favour the lateral (on the side) position) there is little disagreement that taking quick and decisive action to perform CPR helps to save the lives of our canine companions.

This is a reprint of a poster produced by the American Red Cross to help pet owners perform CPR on their dogs should they need to in an emergency. If your dog is in any form of medical distress, you need to take them to an available veterinarian as soon as possible. Even if you do perform CPR to save your dog’s life, your dog needs to be checked by your vet as soon as possible afterwards to make sure that everything is fine.

It’s a great idea to check your dog’s pulse with the aid of the guide today while everything is fine so you can get a good idea how to find it, where to find the pulse and what your dog’s pulse feels like normally. This will help in times of emergency to quickly locate where your puppy’s pulse is and will let you know how it is different (if any) after an accident or emergency. 

Only give your dog CPR in an emergency situation and never use chest compressions on your dog when they are well as you could cause enormous damage to your pet. The same is true for breathing down the nose of your pet as doing this on a health and breathing animal can cause damage to their respiratory tract.

If the situation allows, make sure you have a partner to help you out by either swapping through the entire process so that you take turns in giving a cycle of breaths and chest compressions or by one person being responsible for each part of the process. Giving CPR is very exhausting and tiring so having 2 people who are able to administer it in an emergency is extremely advantageous.   

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