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.
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.
The 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:
The key to canine CPR is remembering the ABCs:
To perform the three techniques, follow these steps.
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.
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.
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.
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