Pet Health - CPR for pets

How to Perform CPR on Your Pet



Learn how to care for your dog or cat when they may need you the most. CPR stands for 'cardiopulmonary resuscitation' and is a life-saving procedure used to help dogs and cats that have stopped breathing and/or have no heartbeat.


Before performing this procedure please keep in mind that CPR is hazardous and can cause physical complications such as broken ribs or fatal damage if performed on a healthy dog or cat.

Only to be performed for life-saving purposes.


Follow these simple instructions:

1.     Place animal out on their right side down and position yourself alongside the back of the animal. Look, listen and feel for breathing. If an unconscious animal is breathing, CPR is NOT required:

  • Look: Watch the animal’s chest and look for a natural rise and fall of the chest wall. If breathing, the chest should move up and down every few seconds.
  • Listen: Place your ear to the pet’s chest and listen for breathing and/or a pulse.
  • Feel: Place your cheek or hand close to the pet’s nose to feel for any air flow against your skin. Check for a pulse by placing two fingers on the inside of the pets back thigh or groin.

Pet Health - CPR for pets

2.     Check that the dog’s airway is clear. Remove any blockages that may be obstructing the animal’s airway such as food, vomit or foreign material.

Pet Health - CPR for pets

Please note: for photo purposes, we’ve pulled the head up, this is to show how to keep the pet’s mouth closed and positioning of mouth over the snout. The pet’s head should remain on the flat surface and on its side when performing CPR.

3. Once the airway is clear, position the animal for artificial respiration. Extending the head and neck, blow twice firmly into the dog or cat’s snout just enough to gently lift the chest wall. *Be sure to keep the animal’s mouth closed using your hands.

Pet Health - positioning for CPR for pets

4. Placing your palm on the animal’s chest, bend then animal’s arm back until the elbow touches the body. This is where you’re the palm of your hand should be placed to start chest compressions. Without bending your elbows, press the rib cage down to compress the chest about one-quarter to one-third of the way down for a count of one and a quick release back up. Carry on at a rate of 30 compressions to 2 breaths. Every 2-3 cycles, check for a pulse and any breathing. If two people are available, give 1 breath for every 2 compressions.

For small cats and dogs use fingertips to do chest compressions instead of your whole hand or place your four fingers under the pet’s chest and compress on the top with the left thumb.

Pet Health - CPR for pets   Pet Health - CPR for pets

5. Continue to do CPR until the pet begins to breathe and has a steady pulse. Transport your pet to the nearest veterinary practice as soon as possible.


If the pet doesn’t show any signs of improvement after 10 minutes of CPR, you are advised to stop, as it has proven unsuccessful.


To learn CPR and other pet first-aid techniques, talk to your veterinarian, or local St. John Ambulance.


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