CPR for Dogs


Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure that can help dogs that have stopped breathing and whose hearts have stopped beating. Dog CPR is very similar to the procedure used on humans: the technique involves clearing the airway, administering artificial breaths, and maintaining circulation of blood to the heart.

Before Administering CPR

Try to wake the dog by petting it and speaking to it. If the dog doesn't respond, confirm the dog is not breathing and there is no pulse. Watch the dog's chest for movement, or hold a mirror to the dog's nose and look for condensation. To check the dog's pulse, place your hand on the left side of the chest, or on the underside of the dog's wrist, which is right behind the first dewclaw pad. If no trace of breath or pulse is found, lay the dog on its right side on a hard surface to begin CPR.

Clear the Airway

Check that the dog's airway is not blocked by any objects. Tilt the dog's head back so the neck is extended. Pull the dog's tongue from its mouth and look for any obstructions. If there are obstructions, use your fingers to remove the objects. An unconscious dog may still bite, so watch your fingers.

Rescue Breathing

Once the airway is clear, check again to see if the dog is breathing. If not, straighten the neck and close the dog's mouth with your hand. Seal the dog's nose with your mouth and exhale into the nostrils with force. For smaller dogs, you can seal the nose and the mouth with your lips. You should see the dog's chest rise and fall with each exhale. Exhale four or five times and then begin chest compressions.

Chest Compressions

To locate the heart, bend the dog's left arm and pull it back to the chest. The elbow will point to the location of the heart, where you will administer compressions. Kneeling over the dog's chest, place your right hand on top of your left hand and intertwine and lock your fingers. Straighten your elbows and bring your weight down on the dog's chest. Do 15 compressions in 10 seconds, then one breath and an abdominal compression.

Most dogs should be lying on their right side to receive chest compressions, but barrel-chested dogs, such as bulldogs or pugs, should be placed on their back. If the dog weighs less than 30 pounds, do not use your full weight to compress the chest. Use your finger tips, or the palm of your hand and compress the chest at a rate of two compressions per second. Smaller dogs have higher heart rates, so compressions should be more rapid than with larger dogs.

Abdominal Compressions

Abdominal compressions keep the blood circulating to the heart. After 15 chest compressions and one breath, slide your left hand under the dog's abdomen, which is right before the dog's hind legs. Place your right hand on top of the dog's abdomen and squeeze the abdomen between your hands. Then proceed with chest compressions.

Repeat these steps until you arrive at an animal hospital or until veterinary assistance arrives.


CPR will not start the dog's heart, but it will keep blood circulating to the heart until professional help can treat the dog. If twenty minutes have passed and the dog has not been revived or taken to a hospital, it is unlikely the dog will survive.

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