How to Perform CPR on Your Dog



You come home from a shopping trip and you become concerned when your furry best friend doesn't happily greet you at the door like usual. Walking around you find your dog is non-responsive and passed out on your living room floor. The thoughts rush through your mind on what could he have gotten in to. Is he alive? Does he need CPR?


How Can I Tell CPR is Needed?


The most tell-tale sign of needing CPR is when there is no airflow. Checking the dog's airway is key to recognizing if moving onto CPR is necessary. It can be hard to tell if breathing is occurring naturally or not, so be sure to take these few initial steps to identify this.


Step by Step CPR on a German Shepherd


Step 1: Airway

Begin looking for the dog's abdomen to be rising and falling or softly touching their abdomen to feel if any movement is happening. Sometimes a slight push on the area can induce a breath intake and help the dog get back on a normal breathing cycle. If there is still no movement, be sure to make a clean sweep of the dog's mouth by opening the snout, pulling the tongue out, and gently sweeping your fingers through as to remove any foreign object that may be blocking airflow. If the dog begins breathing after these simple tests and tasks, that is wonderful, and there is no need to move on to performing CPR. If there is still no airflow, even after making sure everything was clear and unobstructed, then take the next steps to begin resuscitation.



Step 2: Circulation (Pulse)

As with humans, it is essential to check for a beating pulse to make sure there is blood circulation and that the heart is working and pumping correctly. It is difficult to find a dog's pulse without any medical background (try to feel the pulse on the inside of the back legs near the groin/femoral artery, under the armpits, or simply hand on their chest). The best place to feel for a dog's pulse would be along their inner back thighs; run your hand along the leg up until the point where thigh and body meet; there will be a small dip where you will be able to feel the artery closest. Time is a huge factor in these situations, and it may be more beneficial just to begin administering CPR rather than waste valuable time looking for a pulse.



Step 3: Thrusts

Lay the dog on its RIGHT side on the floor, and the dog's back should be right up against your knees to keep stability for both of you. Put the neck and head as straight as possible for the best airflow. Place both hands, one on top of the other, putting them on the area with the chest's largest width (dog laying on its side)—the area just above where the dog's heart would be.


Begin to push up and down with your arms locked and straight in a quick yet firm fashion on the rib cage alongside the tempo of the Bee Gee's song "Stayin' Alive". Do 30 compressions and then blow 2 quick breaths into the dog's nose. Continue repeating steady compressions and short breaths at a quick rate of 10-15 seconds. Every 2 minutes, continue to check the dog's breathing and look for a heartbeat.


It is imperative to not overwork and become fatigued yourself, which would allow for mistakes that were not intended. If there is another human present, it would be beneficial to take turns helping administer CPR. Try to keep pace, stay steady, and strong.



How Long Should You Perform CPR?


There is no wrong or right amount of time allotted to perform CPR. Time is crucial in these situations, and action should be taken right away. As mentioned in the Step by Step listed above, every 2 minutes between compressions and artificial respiration, you should check on your German Shepherd's stability. Some circumstances may require you to perform CPR longer than anticipated, and others may require less. There is no official end time when you should stop administering help for your dog. It will be obvious when to stop once the dog begins breathing, and if the medical procedure is not doing as intended, stop and seek professional medical assistance.



How Effective is CPR on Dogs?


Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that CPR will produce the desired end result. A minimal rate of animals that experience cardiopulmonary arrest can successfully overcome it. However, it is always better to know as a pet owner how to administer CPR in any case that you need to utilize it. Just like humans, the success rate depends on a large part of who is administering CPR and how skilled they are with the procedure. Never practice CPR on a healthy, breathing animal.



Can a Veterinarian Perform CPR?


All veterinarians should can perform CPR. The difficulty remains in bringing your German Shepherd to the vet in time to perform CPR in the first place. That is why it is invaluable and potentially life-saving to learn the standard technique yourself. Taking your pet to an animal hospital would be more of a benefit after CPR has saved the dog to diagnose if any other medical attention is still required. Suppose there is a concern or misunderstanding about why your dog needed to have CPR administered. In that case, it will not hurt to get the animal a wellness check at your specified veterinarian location. See our article here on getting your dog health insurance. It's not as expensive as you may think and like human health insurance, it's much more cost efficient when you need it, compared to paying out of pocket.


Can You Defibrillate a Dog?


Only a veterinarian professional should administer defibrillation to an animal. The animal-patient can have its heart rate monitored by an electrocardiogram, and the medical professional will be able to determine if defibrillation is a necessary option. Like with CPR, resuscitation's success rate is shallow, under 5%, even for skilled professionals. Research and studies further our ability to understand and implement more medical assistance.



There have been impressive strides and discoveries in animal medicine that will continue to unveil themselves. Although not recommended without an excellent medicinal understanding, defibrillators can be purchased just in case of emergencies. Training is highly advised.



Welcome to the Pack!

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