Cardiac or respiratory arrest can occur to anyone, be it a human or an animal. Most of us are aware of the most immediate treatment to address a situation like this, that is, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). CPR is a medical treatment that’s immediately applied to a person whose breathing has suddenly stopped. However, while many people know how to perform CPR on humans, most aren’t aware of how it should be applied to a dog or any other pet.
How Do You Know that Your Dog Requires CPR?
The function of CPR is the same for your dog as it is for humans. When a person or an animal suffers a cardiac arrest, their heart stops, and it loses its ability to pump vital, oxygen-rich blood to various parts of the body. CPR is a simulation of the blood circulation process. In the case of cardiac arrest in dogs, when the heart stops, the dog will lose consciousness (just like how humans do). To determine if CPR is required, you’ll first have to determine whether the dog is breathing or has a pulse.
To find out whether it is breathing, look for movement in the dog’s chest. If it is moving up and down, that means it is breathing. To further check, use your hand to feel the dog’s breath close to its nose. Also, you can check the pulse by placing a finger or two on the femoral artery, located on the upper end of the dog’s back leg, the perfect area to detect a pulse.
If the dog’s gums have turned gray or blue, it is another indication that oxygen-rich blood is not circulating through your dog’s system. For many dog owners, the main reason they will have to perform CPR on their dog is when their dog is choking.
Steps to Perform CPR on Dogs
For Dogs or Puppies Under Thirty Pounds
To perform CPR on a dog that weighs less than 30 pounds, lay it on its right side and place a cupped hand over its heart. The heart is situated behind the points on the dog’s front elbow, inside the chest. Place your other hand between the dog’s body and the floor, and start compressing from 1 to about 1.5 inches. Then, count to 1 and release it for the second count. Ideally, the proper rate to follow during CPR is 100 compressions per minute. One way you can keep count of your compressions is by performing CPR to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. This song has 103 beats per minute.
If you have someone to help you with the CPR, ask them to take care of the compressions while you can deliver artificial respiration. Use mouth-to-nose breathing, and simultaneously provide one breath every 2 to 3 compressions. If you’re the only one at the scene, provide 1 breath every 5 compressions and go back to the compressions as soon as you deliver the breath.
For Dogs above Thirty Pounds
For dogs over 30 pounds, you perform the compressions by placing both hands at the same position on the chest but not exactly over the heart. The best approach is to kneel behind the dog’s back, position your hands in such a way that the heel of one hand is placed on the flattest portion of the dog’s rib cage, and the other hand is placed over it.
Your elbows should be straight, and here you need to compress 2 to 3 inches at a rate of 1.5 to 2 times per second. This should add up to 120 beats per minute. If you’re alone, provide 1 nose-to-mouth breath after every 5 compressions, and if you have someone to help, provide one breath every two to three compressions.
Regardless of the dog’s weight, continue to perform CPR until the dog starts breathing itself or its pulse is restored. As soon as your dog gains consciousness, take it to the vet immediately to find out the reason for the incident and provide necessary medication.