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How to do CPR on a dog - simplified

Similar to humans, performing CPR on a dog increases their chance of survival. 

Whilst it is beneficial to have official first aid training on dogs, we'll walk you through what to do in an emergency, how to check you need to do CPR and how to perform CPR to give your dog the best chance possible. 

First check your dog needs CPR:

  • It is essential you try to stay calm so you are able to approach the situation with a calmer attitude - harder said than done! 
  • Quickly assess the airway and breathing, CPR will not be the appropriate route if they are breathing or have something stuck in their throat. 

Checking the breathing:

  • You must now look and listen to determined whether they are breathing. Can you hear or see breathing? Is the chest moving? Can you feel any air coming from their nose?
  • If they’re aren't breathing, check immediately for a heartbeat
Checking the airway: 
  • Pull the tongue forward.
  • Try to see if there is anything obstructing the airway
  • If there is something blocking the airway, remove it.

Checking circulation:

  • Place your hand or ear over the chest, where the elbow meets the ribcage. Can you feel/hear a heartbeat?
  • If you are sure there is no heartbeat, start CPR.

Performing CPR

  • Place your pet on their right side on a secure, firm and flat surface. Dogs with more barrel-shaped chests need to be lying flat on their backs and CPR compressions are done at the midpoint of the chest.
  • Compress the chest at 2 per second at the widest part of the chest. (Remember the song ‘Staying Alive’ – doing it to this beat is about right, exactly the same as humans)

For small dogs, use one hand
For large dogs
, use both hands interlocked.

  • You'll need to press firmly down, compressing 1/2 to 2/3 of your pet’s chest depth per compression.
  • Keep your arms straight, if you have someone with you it is advised you swap frequently as the process becomes very tiring and you want to ensure you're doing an effective job.  
  • After 30 compressions, extend their neck, close the mouth and blow down their nose. Give 2 breaths of 1 second, allowing 1 second for the chest to fall.
  • It is possible to create a seal with your mouth around small dog’s noses, but for larger dogs you will need to hold the side of nostrils down and only blow into the front of the nose. 
  • Check for a heartbeat
  • If there is no sign of breathing or a heartbeat, you should continue to repeat the process - giving 30 compressions and 2 breaths - until veterinary help arrives or until the heartbeat and breathing returns.

You need to take your dog to an emergency vet even if they begin breathing again, to ensure they get the correct care after the ordeal.