A Guide To Performing CPR On A Pet

by Maddy Pappas

Every owner wants to take care of their pet. This means being able to provide love, sustenance and shelter. It also means providing elements of health care and in extreme cases, this could also mean performing CPR.

While no owner wants to think about their pet laying unconscious or struggling to breathe properly, being informed and prepared is a non negotiable. This is especially true when you consider that knowing CPR could be the difference between life and death.

 

How to approach the situation

Pet owners will react differently to seeing their beloved furry friend in a situation where CPR is necessary. The most important thing is to stay calm. By approaching the situation with feelings of calm, you can not only think clearly, but also act more effectively.

From there, it’s vital to ring a veterinary clinic and ask for advice. They may be able to send out a vet or they may encourage you to immediately come to the clinic. In other cases, they may provide CPR advice while on the other line.

The support of qualified professionals is invaluable during trying times. It’s also important to, where possible, lean on family support. This way, one person can be driving to the vet while the other person is performing CPR.

Performing CPR On A Pet

Performing CPR on your dog

When performing pet CPR, there are different techniques that are used for different animals, let alone different breeds. For example, CPR techniques for large dog breeds will require compressions to be delivered over the widest part of the chest.

For narrow chested dogs, CPR should be delivered over the point of the chest where the elbows meet the chest. Meanwhile, barrel chested dogs need to receive CPR over their sternum.

Once the appropriate technique is identified, it’s important to move through distinct steps, or a CPR checklist, starting and stopping at the appropriate intervals. This will give you and your beloved dog a break from the rigours of CPR.

Step 1: Check for signs of breathing and a heartbeat

The easiest way to check for breathing is to look for your dog’s chest rising and falling. Whereas you will need to locate your dog’s femoral artery- on their inner thigh- to find a pulse. If there is no heartbeat or signs of breathing, start chest compressions.

A small dog will typically have a heart rate of 100 to 160 beats per minute. A medium to large dog’s heart will beat between 60 and 100 times a minute. Whereas, for a puppy, they may have a pulse of 250 beats per minute.

Step 2: Deliver compressions

Place your pet on their side and deliver compressions. Typically, compressions should be delivered at a rate of 120 per minute which is exactly two compressions per second. When engaging in compressions, leave time for the chest to recoil fully between compressions.

Step 3: Provide rescue breaths

With every 30 compressions, you should also attempt to provide your pooch with rescue breaths. This can be achieved by closing your pets mouth and wrapping your fingers around the muzzle before breathing with your mouth over their nose.

Step 4: Check again for breathing and/or heartbeat

Common CPR practice dictates that after two minutes of providing CPR and rescue breaths, you should check again for a pulse. Attempts at resuscitation can stop when you become physically exhausted or when the pet begins to respond.

 

Performing CPR on a cat

Proper CPR technique for a cat dictates that you should grasp your cat’s chest by placing your thumb and fingers on either side of their chest. The correct spot on either side of the chest is behind the elbows but over the heart.

Step 1: Check for signs of breathing and a heartbeat

The first step revolves around checking if your cat is breathing and has a heartbeat. In cats, the common beats per minute is between 140 and 200. In kittens, the pulse rate may be as high as 250 beats per minute.

If your cat is in respiratory failure, the next step is to begin artificial respiration. If your cat’s heart has stopped beating, it’s vital to alternate chest compressions with means of artificial respiration.

Step 2: Try artificial respiration

Before beginning artificial respiration, place your cat on their side and immediately check the airways. Once clear, begin providing rescue breaths by putting your mouth over their nose and blowing gently. Wait for the air to visibly leave the lungs and breathe again at a rate of 20 breaths per minute.

Step 3: Administer CPR

If your cat’s heart has stopped beating, the best course of action is to start with CPR. This means providing compressions of about one inch in depth. Five compressions can be alternated with one artificial respiration breath.

 

Learning Pet CPR

While most owners don’t want to think about their pet experiencing any form of harm, the reality is that sometimes things will go wrong. One of the most life threatening incidents is when your pet stops breathing or their heart stops beating.

In order to provide the most appropriate care, it’s important to learn and understand elements of CPR. This way, you can provide efficient supplementary care until your pet can be seen by a professional.

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