Health & Hygiene

Dog CPR – What to Do in a Crisis

Written by Melissa Keen

In the unfortunate event that your dog required some immediate medical help, it’s important as a dog owner, trainer or carer that you have a basic understanding of dog CPR. Having a basic level of understanding could make the difference between life and death.

Here are some important must-know tips – just in case the worst should happen.

What is CPR?

CPR, or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, is a method of first aid that compromises of chest compressions teamed with artificial respiration. It is used on people or animals who have stopped breathing; when unable to breathe, the heart goes into cardiac arrest and eventually stops. It is a last resort as it can cause complications or injuries, even on a healthy dog.

When to Perform Dog CPR

CPR should be used when all other options haven’t worked. If you are unable to see or feel the dog breathing and have attempted to check their airway for blockages, and if you are no longer able to feel their pulse, it is time to attempt CPR.

How to Perform CPR On Small Dogs (less than 14kg)

  • Lay the dog down on their right side
  • Hold the dog on either side over the heart area, or use one hand over their heart (find where the heart is positioned by bending back their front leg and seeing where the elbow meets the chest)
  • Compress the chest around one third to one half the width of the chest for a count of one, then let go. Repeat for 30 compressions to the beat of ‘Baby Shark’ or ‘Staying Alive’
  • After 30 compressions, it’s time to start the breaths. Give two breaths around the muzzle of the dog. Don’t breathe for too long, but look for the chest rising. If possible, have one person doing breaths and one doing chest compressions
  • Continue until the dog begins to breathe again and the pulse becomes steady, or until you get to the emergency vet (don’t forget to ring ahead)

How to Perform CPR on Large Dogs (more than 14kg)

  • Lay the dog down on their right side
  • Kneel beside the dog at their back
  • Find the point over their heart. You can do this by bending back their front leg and seeing where the elbow meets the chest
  • Place your hand over the heart. Place your other hand on top
  • Without bending your elbows, put your weight into your hands, compressing the chest by one third or up to one half, then release. Repeat for 30 seconds to the beat of ‘Baby Shark’
  • After 30 compressions, it’s time to start the breaths. Give two breaths around the muzzle of the dog
  • If possible, try to change people doing compressions every 2 minutes or so as it is quickly fatiguing
  • Continue until the dog begins to breathe for itself and you can find a pulse, or until you get to the emergency vet (remember to call ahead)

Watch a video of how to perform dog CPR on dogs HERE.

Remember, CPR can be dangerous and result in damaged internal organs or broken ribs, so it is important only to do CPR as a last resort. It’s also vital you get the dog to an emergency vet as soon as possible – remember to ring ahead so they know to expect you.

About the author

Melissa Keen