CPR is a technique that most people have familiarity with, along with some general knowledge for how the process is carried out. It is often seen in films or practiced in mandatory training classes. However, CPR isn’t something that the average person expects to perform during their lifetime. While we often associate CPR with humans, there are also scenarios where animals and pets experience situations where they require CPR.
In an unlikely scenario that you would need to perform CPR on your pet, read the following information below so that you will be ready and prepared for the task.
What is CPR?
The American Heart Association defines CPR, also known as Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, as “an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating.” The procedure requires someone to perform chest compressions while also providing artificial airflow to restore as much oxygen as possible to the patient’s brain and bloodstream.
When to Perform CPR on my Pet
There are multiple symptoms that your dog or cat may exhibit that may indicate that CPR should be performed immediately. These symptoms include:
If Your Pet is Not Breathing
To check if your pet is breathing, you can either put your hand up to their nostrils to feel for airflow or you can monitor their chest to examine if it is rising and falling. If it is evident that they are not breathing, then you should begin performing CPR right away.
If Your Pet Does Not Have a Pulse
Checking your pet’s pulse can be challenging with all that fur. The two best locations to find a pulse are in their carotid and femoral arteries. You will likely have better luck finding the femoral artery; however, it is essential to know the location of both. Your pet’s carotid arteries are located on both sides of their neck and under their bottom jaw. If you are having trouble locating their carotid artery, practice finding your own, as humans and animals both have carotid arteries in similar locations.
The femoral artery is located on your pet’s femur, also known as the thigh bone. You can find their femoral pulse on the inside of their hind legs, near the middle and top of their thighs.
If neither of these arteries show a pulse, put your hand over your pet’s chest and feel for a heartbeat on the left side of their body. If none of these vital signs show any sign of life, then you may begin performing CPR.
How to Perform CPR on my Pet
Recommended CPR techniques will vary depending on the size of your pet. However, most of the following steps apply to animals of all sizes. Follow these general guidelines when administering CPR to your cat or dog:
- Lay your pet on its side.
- Position yourself so that you are at a position where you can lock your elbows when performing the technique. If you are too close or too far away, you will lose strength faster.
- For smaller animals under 30 pounds, you want to perform CPR over their heart. To find their heart, bend their front leg back so that their elbow is pointing backward. Their heart is located directly near where the tip of their elbow reaches.
- For animals over 30 pounds, you can choose any point on their chest, whether it be near their heart or in a more open space near their spine.
- Cup your hands and begin compressions. Each compression should last the same in duration and you should compress your pet’s chest by about one-third to one-half of their total chest width. Make sure that you fully release all pressure after each compression.
- Providing airflow is the next step, however, depending on the number of people you have with you, this step may vary in difficulty. With two people, have one person performing chest compressions and the other providing airflow through the pet’s nostrils every 6-8 seconds. It is crucial that no air gets out of your pet’s airways, so keep their mouth shut. For smaller pets, breathe lightly into their nose and for larger pets, use heavier breaths. If you are by yourself, you should provide airflow to your pet after every 5-10 chest compressions.
- If you have a partner during this process, be sure to switch roles every 2 minutes to avoid losing strength.
CPR Tips & Tricks
There are a few techniques that can be useful for beginners when it comes to performing CPR. The songs “Stayin Alive” by The Bee Gees and “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen both have the correct number of beats per minute for CPR. If you hum either of these two songs while performing CPR, you will maintain the correct amount of chest compressions per minute, which should be between 100 and 120.
Contact Dogwood Vet for Medical Assistance and More
At Dogwood Veterinary Hospital & Pet Resort, it is our goal to make sure that our patients are knowledgeable about a wide variety of medical topics regarding your furry friends. If you have questions, concerns, or would like to schedule a visit for your pet or learn more about pet CPR, give us a call today at 919.942.6330 or visit us at 51 Vickers Rd. in Chapel Hill.