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First Aid for a Dog with No Heartbeat

You will need to perform CPR if your dog has no heartbeat.

Did you know that you can perform CPR on a dog? You can! It's important that you know the basics of performing rescue breathing and chest compressions before you encounter a situation where you need it.

Evaluating Whether a Dog Needs CPR

First, you'll need to determine whether a dog that is unresponsive needs CPR. If a dog is responsive, moving, and looking around, he does not require CPR, and you may be injured or injure the dog if you attempt to perform it.

If your dog is unresponsive, you will need to determine if he is breathing and has a heartbeat. Here is what to do:

  • Lie your dog on his right side on a hard surface.
  • Tilt your dog's head back slightly, to extend his neck and open his airway.
  • Look in your dog's mouth and remove any foreign objects or material that you see (only if your dog is unresponsive).
  • Check for breathing. You can feel your dog's chest for a rhythmic rise and fall. You can place a tissue close to his mouth and nose and watch for fluttering. You can put your ear near his mouth and nose (if you're certain he's unresponsive). You can use a stethoscope.
  • Check for a heartbeat. You can sometimes feel a heartbeat through the chest wall on small dogs. Feel at the spot on the chest where your dog's flexed elbow touches. You may be able to feel a pulse in your dog's groin, where the top of the leg meets the body wall. This will require practicing when your dog is healthy. You may also use a stethoscope to listen. This also will probably require practicing when your dog is healthy.
  • If your dog is not breathing but does have a heartbeat, you will need to perform rescue breathing.
  • If your dog is not breathing and doesn't have a heartbeat, you will need to perform CPR.

You must be sure that your pet has no heartbeat before performing CPR because chest compressions on a dog with a heartbeat can cause harm.

How to Perform CPR on Your Dog

Here is the procedure for CPR in a dog:

  1. Be sure your dog's airway is open by extending his neck and removing any objects you see in his mouth.
  2. If your dog is small, less than 30 pounds, place one hand on each side of him where his flexed elbows touch the chest. Press on the chest with your top hand until it compresses by about 1/3. Compress about once per second.
  3. If your dog is large, over 30 pounds, interlock your fingers and place both palms over the widest part of his chest cavity. About once per second, push down until the chest compresses by about 1/3.
  4. Place your mouth over your dog's nose and wrap both hands tightly around your mouth and your dog's muzzle. Breathe into his nose steadily until you see his chest rise for 2 seconds. Repeat 4-5 times.
  5. Check for breathing and a heartbeat.
  6. If your pet is still not breathing and has no heartbeat, continue steps 2 (or 3) through 5 until he is revived.
  7. If someone is with you and can drive, perform CPR in the car on the way to a veterinary clinic. If possible, have someone call ahead so the staff can be prepared to assist you as soon as you arrive.

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