Dog Care

Dog CPR: What To Do If Your Dog Suddenly Collapses

Dog CPR: What To Do If Your Dog Suddenly Collapses

Written By Rebecca Paredes

May 23, 2016

We can’t bear the thought of our furry companions in distress, but dog CPR is a skill that any responsible dog owner should know. If you ever find your dog unresponsive, properly administering dog CPR could give you some precious extra time before you get your beloved pet to your vet’s office.

Dr. Daniel J. Fletcher, an associate professor of emergency and critical care at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, recently released a set of steps that detail what to do if your best furry friend suddenly stops breathing.

What to do with CPR dog

Check out the guidelines below, compiled by Peggy Noonan. Keep in mind that these steps are not intended to replace a vet visit. Just like CPR for humans, dog CPR is intended to get blood and oxygen flowing while you’re on your way to the vet.

Dog CPR: For Unresponsive Dogs

  1. Try to wake them up and look for signs of breathing. Is their chest moving? Can you feel air from their nose?
  2. If they’re not breathing and still unresponsive, check to see if their airway is blocked. Open their mouth, pull out their tongue, and look at the back of their throat.
  3. Is something stuck there? Try to pull it out. If the dog responds, they’re not in cardiac arrest — but you should still get them to the vet ASAP.

Dog CPR: For Dogs In Cardiac Arrest

  1. Before you do anything, have someone get a car to take you and your dog to a veterinarian. Perform CPR while you’re in the car on the way to the vet.
  2. If your dog is medium or large: place them on their side and kneel behind their back with your knees against the spine. To find the right spot to place your hands, check the dog’s shape and size.
    • If they have a round chest: Put your hands on the widest portion of the chest, at the top of the dome shape with the dog on their side.
    • If they have a keel-shaped chest: If the dog has a deep, narrow chest, pull their elbow back across the chest about a third of the way toward the shoulder. Their elbow will point to their heart.
    • If they have a barrel chest: Place your hands on the sternum at the center of the chest.
  3. Place one hand on top of the other and position them over your dog’s heart. Keep your elbows locked, shoulders directly over your hands, and waist bent.
  4. Push down against the chest two times per second, doing 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Your goal is to compress the chest approximately one-third to one-half its width. Count out loud and continue for two minutes. Sing the song “Stayin’ Alive” in your head — the song is about 100 to 120 beats per minute, so it can help you keep pace.
  5. If your dog’s chest is small enough to fit in your hand: Wrap one hand around their chest and squeeze to perform one-handed compressions.
  6. Begin mouth-to-snout resuscitation. Extend the neck so it forms a straight line with the spine. Wrap your hand around the snout so no air leaks out, and cover both nostrils with your mouth. After every 30 chest compressions, give your dog two quick breaths. Continue until you’ve arrived at the vet.

Before you ever get to this point, make sure you have emergency vet contact information on hand. You should know the location and phone number of your closet vet's office, and you should know of backup pet hospitals in your area in case your closest vet is closed. 

At the end of the day, we’d do anything for our pets. In fact, they’re our heroes! Tell us about your dog in the comments below.