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It’s every dog owner’s worst nightmare: Your dog’s heart stops beating!

It can happen during nap-time, play-time, food-time or any other moment throughout day and night. Believe me, it will come as a big surprise.

No matter when, where or how it happens, it will shock you. And while you are in shock, your dog loses vital seconds. 

What is CPR?

So, what exactly is CPR?

Well, CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. It is an emergency procedure which combines chest compressions with artificial air flow. The goal of this procedure is to keep the brain functioning (by means of blood flow and the supply of oxygen) until other measures can be taken to restore the automatic blood circulation of the dog. 

CPR should be started immediately when the dog goes into cardiopulmonary arrest and should last for at least 20 minutes, even if it seems ineffective. After 30 minutes, CPR should be stopped.

Dog CPR success rate

Unfortunately, the dog CPR success rate is not very high. Research has shown that only 3-6% of patients who received CPR in the hospital, is able to go home. However, the success rate can increase when you know what to do, and that's what you'll learn here today.

When should you give CPR to your dog?

There are a few situations where CPR for dogs should be applied. In order to recognize cardiopulmonary arrest, a few things should be checked.

Collapse - When the dog collapses and doesn’t respond to external stimulations. This includes touching, calling the name etc.


The dog isn’t breathing. - You can easily check this by observing the chest. If the chest is not moving, the breathing has stopped.

The heart is not beating. - This may be difficult to observe, especially when you’re in panic. However, the dog’s heart beat can be monitored by holding 2 finger tips on the inside of the thigh, on top of the femoral artery.

Alternatively, you can place your hand under the elbow, resting on the chest.

Please be aware that checking the pulse is not mandatory to start CPR. If you are in doubt, start CPR immediately.

How to give CPR to a dog?

As I mentioned earlier, CPR does 2 things. It keeps the blood circulation going and it gives ventilation to the lungs, thus providing vital oxygen for the brains.

Before you start CPR, make sure that the dog is unconscious!

Chest compression – Blood circulation

Step 1: Start the chest compression with the dog laying on it’s side. 

Note: Bulldogs are an exception, they should be placed on their back. 

Step 2: Press the chest at the depth of approximately 1/2 the depth of the chest. (Especially for big dogs, it requires strength)

Step 3: Your own posture is very important. Your shoulders should be located directly above you hands, with your elbows locked (arms fully stretched out).

Step 4: Start the compression with a rate of 100-120 beats per minute. In order to keep yourself calm and focused, you can sing the song “Stayin’ Alive” from the BeeGees. This will help you to stay on the correct rhythm. 

Breathing – Mouth-to-snout ventilation

Step 1: Keep the dog’s mouth closed with 1 hand.

Step 2: The head and the neck should be fully extended. The nose should be in the same line as the neck. This is needed to open the airways for maximum air flow. 

Step 3: Put your mouth around the nose (nostrils) and seal it off with your lips. Give a firm blow to inflate the chest. You can adjust the amount of air blown, when you see the chest inflating.

Make sure that the tongue is not blocking the airways! You can easily check this by pulling the tongue outward.

For every 30 chest compressions, you give 2 blows!

Step 4: Get help!

Even though you can start the resuscitation yourself, your dog needs urgent care from your veterinarian.

When you notice your dog has a cardiopulmonary arrest, your should call or go to the nearest veterinarian immediately.

CPR should be continued until a vet is present to help your dog.

The CPR procedure is successful when the dog starts breathing again by itself.

Although the procedure was a success, the dog still needs to see a vet for further examination and care!

That was it for today! 

Thank you for staying with me, I hope you've learned some useful information. 

© 2020 Advanced Canine Education