pet CPR

Many pet owners say that their pets saved their lives in one way or another. It could be their constant companionship and unconditional love that turned life around, or perhaps it’s the daily exercise and time spent outdoors that helped correct health problems.

Whatever the case may be, we owe our pets a great deal. And while no pet owner wants to imagine having to save their pet’s life, knowing how to perform pet CPR can make all the difference in an emergency.

What Is Enough?

Emergency preparedness is an essential part of pet ownership. In fact, we’d prefer that owners have a pet first aid kit and not need it, than the other way around. While we’re always here for your pet during an emergency, there are certain times that owners have to act quickly and rely on their life-saving skills.

It’s Vital

To that end, we encourage all pet owners to know how to check their pet’s vital signs, ascertain whether or not pet CPR is the right course of action, and perform it if necessary. That way, pets have a greater chance of surviving the calamity that brought them to this point.


Cardiopulmonary resuscitation can definitely change a pet’s fate, but it can be extremely detrimental if performed on a pet that does not need it. In other words, pet CPR should only be used if your pet is not breathing and has no pulse.

  • Look for obvious signs of breathing, such as the chest rising and falling.
  • White, grey, or blue-colored gums indicate a lack of circulating oxygen.
  • Check the femoral artery on the inside of the back leg, toward the top, in addition to feeling and listening for heartbeat on the chest.
  • Remove any obstruction from the mouth or throat, and pull the tongue to the front of the mouth. Stretch the neck slightly.
  • Close the mouth and keep in closed with one hand gently wrapped around the snout or muzzle.

Mouth to Snout

With their mouth firmly closed with one hand, artificial respiration is done by blowing air from your mouth into your pet’s nostrils. Aim for one breath every 4-5 seconds. Watch the chest rise and fall. Then give 3-5 more breaths and check for a pulse. Repeat if necessary at a rate of 10 breaths per 60 seconds.

Chest Compressions

No pulse and no breathing require alternating between artificial respiration and chest compressions:

  • Lay your pet on their right side, preferably on top of a flat surface.
  • Flatten one hand, palm down, and stack the other on top, interlacing the fingers. For smaller pets, use a couple fingers to press onto the heart.
  • Compress the chest about 15 times every 10 seconds, alternating with a breath after 5 compressions (dogs) or 10 compressions (cats).
  • If after 10 minutes of pet CPR, it is recommended to stop if there’s no sign of life.

The More You Know

Our doctors and staff  truly hope you’re never in a position that demands pet CPR. However, the more you know could save your pet’s life. As always, please contact us with any questions or concerns.