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Posted on 03-29-2013

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is the treatment required to save an animal's life when suffering from cardiopulmonary arrest (inability to breathe and have effective blood circulation). Prevention of cardiac arrest is always more successful than treatment of it. Signs of impending arrest are gasping for air, pale/gray gums, non responsive pupils, and weak pulses.

There are two parts to CPR: rescue breathing and chest compressions.

Together, these will keep the lungs supplied with oxygen and blood circulating to vital organs. CPR should continue for at least 20 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

Basic CPR can be performed by any pet owner and involves the ABC's: Airway, Breathing and Circulation.

  1. Make sure the animal is unconscious and actually in cardiopulmonary arrest. This can be done by talking to the pet and gently trying to awaken them. You could get severely injured by attempting CPR on an animal in a deep sleep.establish_airway_1.JPG
  2. Ensure an open airway. This can be done  by extending the head and neck back and pulling out the tongue. Remove any saliva and/or vomit from inside the mouth. Then sweep your finger across the back of the mouth looking for any foreign objects.
  3. Observe for breathing. Watch for the rise and fall of the chest. Simultaneously listen closely for sounds of breathing. Wait 10 seconds and if no breathing is heard, start rescue breathing.
  4. Rescue breathing. Close the pet's mouth by cupping the muzzle and cover the pet's nose with your mouth and forcefully blow. In small dogs and cats, you need to keep the sides of the mouth closed tightly to effectively force air into the lungs. You should see the chest rise and fall if done correctly.mouth_to_snout_1.JPG
  5. Give 3-5 complete full breaths. If the pet is still not breathing on its own, continue with the rescue breathing. This should be done 20 times per minute in a small dog/cats and about 15 times per minute for large dogs.
  6. Non existent breathing or shallow breathing. If this occurs, continue with the rescue breathing as above and immediately transport to  the nearest veterinary facility.
  7. After ensuring an open airway, check for a pulse (feel inside the hind leg, within a central groove for the femoral vein or use the midline underside of the tongue). If no pulse is felt, begin chest compressions.
  8. Chest compressions:chest_compressions_1.JPG

           Small dogs/cats: squeeze the chest using one hand around the bottom of the chest or both hands around the sides of the chest. Depress the rib cage. Perform this about 125 times per minute.

           Large dogs: compress the chest with both hands or if the dog is on its side use one hand on the side of the chest wall. Depress the rib cage 2-3 inches about 100 times per minute.

Continue CPR for 10-15 minutes and immediately transport the pet to the nearest veterinary facility or until a heartbeat or pulses are felt strongly and regularly.

If you would like more information, please contact us at Eagle Animal Hospital, 610-458-8789. We serve Chester Spring, Downingtown, Exton, Glenmoore, and surrounding areas.

Written by Jennifer Granite, VMD

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