Facebook_off Twitter_off Pinterest Instagram_off Googleplus_off Youtube_off Emailnewsletter

Welcome to DogHeirs, Where Dogs Are Family! Log in or Sign Up


DogHeirs Tshirts

CPR for dogs (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)

Dhicon_thumb By DogHeirs Team | October 05, 2011 | Comments (6)

created at: 2011-10-05

Do you know what to do if your dog stops breathing? Knowing a few emergency procedures if your dog is choking, or having difficulty breathing, could save your dog's life because you may not have time to get to a vet. 

If your dog has a foreign object stuck in his throat, it is important to try and dislodge it before performing CPR. Read our article: Heimlich Maneuver for dogs.

Canine CPR

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) preserves brain function until proper blood circulation and breathing can be restored.

The signs that indicate the need for CPR include unconsciousness, lack of arousal, lack of physical movement, or eye blinking. These symptoms can occur from drowning, choking, electrical shock, or a number of other situations.

Performing mouth-to-snout resuscitatonThe following information has been updated with latest recommended guidelines outlined by the first evidence-based research on how best to resuscitate dogs and cats in cardiac arrest published in June 2012 by the Reassessment Campaign on Veterinary Resuscitation (RECOVER). The study recommends a few updates to current manual CPR practices on dogs:

  • Perform 100-120 chest compressions per minute 
  • Perform a compression to mouth-to-snout ventilation ratio of 30 compressions followed by 2 breaths
  • Recommendations on how best to perform cardiac massage / chest compressions on different chest types and sizes of dogs (see diagrams below).

The key to canine CPR is remembering the ABCs:

   Breathing, and
   Cardiac compression.

To perform the three techniques, follow these steps.

  1. Lay the dog on a flat surface and extend the head back to create an airway. (Current practices recommend laying the dog on his/her right side (heart facing up), however the  latest recommended guidelines state that either the left or right lateral recumbency are acceptable.) 
  2. Open the jaws to check for obstructions, and if any exist and are not easily removed, try to dislodge the object. See our article Heimlich Maneuever for dogs for details on how to dislodge a dog's blocked airway safely.
  3. Cup your hands around the muzzle of the dog's mouth so that only the nostrils are clear. Blow air into the nostrils with five or six quick breaths, again, depending on the size of the dog. Small dogs and puppies and require short and shallow breaths. Larger dogs need longer and deeper breaths. Continue the quick breaths at a rate of one breath every three seconds or 20 breaths per minute.
  4. Check for a heartbeat by using your finger on the inside of the thigh, just above the knee. If you don't feel a pulse, put your hand over the dog's chest cavity where the elbow touches the middle of the chest. If you still don't find a pulse, have one person continue breathing into the nostrils (mouth to snout), while another gives chest compressions / cardiac massage. If you are alone, do the compression and mouth-to-snout ventilation yourself.
  5. Give the dog chest compressions (cardiac massage) by placing both hands palms down on the chest cavity of the dog. For most dogs, chest compressions can be performed on the widest part of the chest while the dog is lying on his side.
    • For dogs with keel-shaped chests (i.e. deep, narrow chests) in breeds such as greyhounds push down closer to the dog's armpit, directly over the heart.
    • For dogs with barrel-chested dogs like English bulldogs lay the dog on its back and compress on the sternum (directly over the heart), like people.
    • For smaller dogs (and cats) chest-compressions scan be done with one hand wrapped around the sternum, encircling the heart or two-handed on the ribs.
    • For large dogs, place your hands on top of each other. For small dogs or puppies, place one hand or thumb on the chest.
  6. Use the heel of your hand(s) to push down for 30 quick compressions followed by 2 breaths of air (ventilation) and then check to see if consciousness has been restored. If consciousness has not been restored, continue the compressions in cycles of 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute (the same rhythm administered for people).
  7. Perform CPR in 2-minute cycles checking to see if breathing and consciousness has been restored.

Ideally, CPR is performed while on route to emergency veterinarian care. If this is not possible, contact a veterinarian once the dog has started breathing.

The following diagrams illustrates how to perform chest compressions on dogs with different chest types. Click on an image to see a larger version. Figure (A) illustrates the technique for most dogs. You can apply chest compressions to the widest part of the chest while the dog lies on its side. Figure (B) illustrates the technique for dogs with keel-shaped chests. Figure (C) illustrates the technique for barrel-chested dogs.

CPR technique for chest compressions for most dogsCPR technique for chest compressions for keel-chested dogsCPR technique for chest compressions for keel-chested dogs

For small dogs and cats chest compressions can be administered two ways. Click on the images to see a larger version. Figure (A) illustrates wrapping one hand around the sternum while supporting the back. Figure (B) illustrates two-handed compression.

CPR technique for chest compressions for small dogsCPR technique for chest compressions for small dogs


Below is a video on administering CPR on dogs. Note: The instructional video below recommends a compression to ventilation ratio of 15 compressions followed by 1 breath. The June 2012 study recommends a compression to ventilation ratio of 30 compressions followed by 2 breaths.


In the video below, Ron Pace saves the life of a Boxer named Sugar using CPR.

Ron writes, "Canyon Crest K9 Training Center owner, Ron Pace, saves the life of a boxer with CPR during a regular training session. During the session, the dog went into a seizure. As he stopped breathing and Lay-ed down Ron handed his assistant his Iphone with the video on and said to capture this so a veterinarian can see what happened. At that point he said to the handler move your hand so I can see if he is breathing and she said he is not. Ron immediately applied CPR. Sugar had stopped breathing for 2 minutes. He finally regained consciousness. Once the dog was resuscitated, the owner took him to the vet. It was later found out Sugar has Cardiomyopathy. We believe it's not just a coincidence that this dog's name happened to be SUGAR and his life was saved. Ron Pace has dedicated himself to training diabetic alert dogs to alert their owners to dangerous blood SUGAR levels."




Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care 22. Reassessment Campaign on Veterinary Resuscitation: Evidence and Knowledge Gap Analysis on Veterinary CPR published June 2012.

Copyright 2015 DogHeirs. All Rights Reserved.

View more articles in: Safety and Emergency Care

You may also like

Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs

Do you know what to do if your dog is choking? Knowing a few emergency procedures, such as CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and the Heimlich maneuver for dogs, is critical to saving lives because you may not have time to get to a vet and your dog could suffocate. Dogs love to  chew bones, sticks, toys, socks and anything small enough to fit into their mouths. But on occassion, an object may become dangerously lodged in...
Read more

German Shepherd in cardiac arrest saved by firefighter’s mouth-to-snout resuscitation (VIDEO)

Cristián Espinoza resuscitates a German Shepherd in cardiac arrest after being pulled from a fire (S. Riveros) Firefighters and rescuers saved the lives of two dogs after pulling them from a house fire in San Antonio, Chile. The German Shepherds, Apolo and Princesa, were suffering cardiac arrest and the firefighters immediately began administering CPR. One dog was so near death that firefighter Cristian Epinoza gave the dog mouth-to-snout in order to get the dog breathing...
Read more

Mail carrier risks her life to save unconscious dog trapped in burning home

A mail carrier is being credited with saving a dog's life after rescuing him from a burning home. Jo Amerson was on her normal mail route when she noticed smoke coming from the Pearce family residence in Evans City, Pennsylvania. Flames were engulfing the car parked next to the mobile home and the fire was spreading quickly. Fearing the family was inside, Jo knocked on the door and called out. When no one answered she...
Read more

Choking Bassett Hound calls emergency and saves his own life

Police officers arrived at the empty home of driving instructor Steve Brown and his daughter Lydia on Saturday night, prepared to knock down the door after having received a 999 (e.g. 911) distress call. Luckily, a neighbor and family friend, Paul Walker, saw them arrive and ran to meet them with a key to let them in to the West Yorkshire home. As the four officers combed the house for someone in trouble, Paul stepped...
Read more

Retired cop saves small dog

Retired police officer Tom Carey came to the rescue of a small dog after the pet was swept out to sea. Tom was fishing at Jupiter Beach in Florida when he heard a woman screaming. Martha Brox, the dog's owner, was in a panic after her  8-year-old Brussels Griffon, Oscar Wilde, had been washed away by a wave and resurfaced "floating". She told WPBF News that she feared the worst.  Tom immediately sprang into action...
Read more

Comments on this Article

Thank you Ron Pace for saving her beautiful dog Sugar and for thinking fast and recording this. Mom did good too. Thank you again!!
Both the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross have switched to making compressions the priority - it's now C-A-B instead of the old A-B-C. Shouldn't we do the same for our pets? Carol, google pet CPR in DFW. There are several companies, who offer a pet CPR/first aid class. I haven't been able to make the dates work for me, but I will.
Does anyone offer classes for this in the dfw area?
Thanks for this, very easy and clear to understand
Just wanted to let you know of a little typo. Diagram B should read -For dogs with keel-shaped chests. Very informative. Thanks DogHeirs.
AMAZING and SO good to know :)
» View all comments

Add Your Comment!

Log in to leave a comment or Create an account

Spring Sale on T-Shirts

Must See

Questions About Safety and Emergency Care

Follow DogHeirs

Also find us on: DogHeirs on Twitter DogHeirs on Pinterest DogHeirs on Instagram DogHeirs on Google+

Copyright 2015 DogHeirs