How to Give Your Dog CPR

It is important to learn how to perform CPR on your dog the correct way in order to save your dog in case of any eventuality. This is to help you maintain oxygen flow to the vital organs until the heartbeat and breathing are reestablished according to Dr. Travis Arndt, director of the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America in St. Louis, Missouri.How to Give Your Dog CPR

How do You Know When Your Dog Needs CPR

If you notice any of the following signs according to Dr. Rebecca Greenstein, a veterinary medical adviser for and the chief veterinary of Ontario’s Kleinburg Veterinary Hospital, you should seek immediate veterinary attention and start CPR efforts immediately. These are the signs:

  • If they are unresponsive or unconscious
  • If your dog is not breathing
  • If you do not feel a pulse or heartbeat

How to Perform CPR on Your Dog

According to Greenstein performing a CPR on a dog, can be broken down into these steps:

A: Airway

  • Make your dog lie on his right side so the left side of his body faces up
  • Ensure the surface beneath is firm and free of any hazards and dirt.
  • Make use of your index finger to clear the back of the throat of any foreign body or fluid that could choke his airway (it’s important you don’t overextend his neck)
  • Pull the dog’s tongue forward to his front teeth in order not to fold back into his throat and block his airway.

B: Breathing

  • In case your dog is not breathing, close his mouth, and breathe into his nostrils and try to inflate his lungs (mouth-to-snout breathing technique).
  • Then exhale into the nostrils forcefully enough to see his chest rise.
  • Allow your dog to exhale the breath passively before you breathe into the nostrils again.
  • Target 10 breaths per minute, or if you are doing concurrently with chest compressions, you can do two breaths after every 30 chest compressions.

C: Compressions

  • Chest compressions are good in stimulating a heartbeat, to help the dog’s blood pump around the body when the heart has stopped
  • When carrying out chest compressions on a dog lying on his side, you are to compress the chest by no more than one-third to one-half of the depth of the chest.
  • Current guidelines recommend 100-120 chest compressions per minute but note that while this might not sound like a lot, this amount can exhaust you physically.

How Does Your Dog’s Size Come Into Play?

Even though some procedure stays the same despite the dog’s size, dog’s size does matter in how you carry out chest compressions.

Here let’s see the different dogs sizes and how they come into play:

Large and Medium Dogs

Large and medium-sized dogs should have their chest compressions administered with them lying on their sides. This you can do by pressing down with one hand on top of the other, palms down) over the widest part of the dog’s chest.

Smaller Dogs

For smaller sized dogs, you should use a circumferential method. This can be done by placing your hands around completely around the dog’s chest and back, letting your thumbs meet at the dog’s sternum ( the lowest part of the chest where the ribs meet).

Barrel-Chested Dogs

Barrel-chested dogs (like the English bulldog, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, or Basset Hounds) should be placed on their backs and should use both hands to carry out compressions on the front of the chest (instead of the side). This is because farther to the dog’s heart, it’s more difficult to perform effective compressions if the dog’s are placed on their sides.

How Effective Is Dog CPR?

Carrying out a CPR for a dog can be very effective, but then it varies, and according to Greenstein, in general, less than 10% of patients will survive the efforts. On the other hand, dogs arresting from anesthetic-related causes have a much higher chance of survival and the faster an arrest is recognized and CPR initiated, the more likely you will have a positive outcome.

Now the question is, why do so few pets seem to survive? The answer might lie in case selection with most dogs receiving CPR just too sick or injured to survive because they often are in severe shock.

Does CPR Pose Risks to the Dog?

Like we said earlier, you should learn how to perform CPR the right way. This is because if you give CPR outside of a veterinary hospital, you should be aware of the eventual outcome. For instance, overzealous chest compressions can cause rib fractures, long bruises or lacerations, the air in the chest, and collapsed lungs. Also other often overlooked risks include tracheal bleeding, and ineffective CPR efforts and unnecessary delays in seeking professional medical help.

What Should You Do After CPR?

According to Dr. Sara Ochoa, a veterinary consultant for, says that even if you are successful at reviving your dog, you should still take them to the veterinary right away. This is because they can always crash again and will need more CPR. And because your veterinarian is well equipped in CPR and has more capabilities for life support at their clinic, than you do at home.

Also according to Jennifer Coates, an advisory board member of Pet Life Today agrees that even when CPR is initially successfully, it is not unusual for a dog to quickly experience cardiopulmonary arrest again. Thus additional treatment and diagnostics will almost always be vital.