Knowing This Procedure In An Emergency Could Mean The Difference Between A Happy Ending And Heartbreak

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There’s no telling how many lives have been saved just because someone knew the right steps at the right time.

Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has prevented countless deaths in humans by keeping oxygen flowing through their system until further medical help arrives. A medical degree isn’t necessary to properly practice the procedure, either. CPR can be administered by anyone who has taken the time to learn the steps.

Being prepared is often the greatest advantage one can have in a medical emergency, whether treating humans or animals. CPR has been used effectively to save dogs from succumbing to cardio-pulmonary arrest, the Telegraph reports, but only when performed properly.

Sadly, less than six percent of pets brought to hospitals with cardio-pulmonary arrest survive, the AVMA maintains, but a good number of those deaths may have been prevented by cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

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What To Look For Before Giving CPR

Your dog may need resuscitation if it is unconscious, not breathing, or showing no signs of a pulse. The Telegraph recommends following the acronym “ABC” to help determine if your pet is falling into cardio-pulmonary arrest.

  1. Airway
  2. Breathing
  3. Circulation

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Open your dog or cat’s mouth and check for any blockages, removing them if necessary. If your pet is still not breathing, action may need to be taken.

“It should take no more than 10 – 15 seconds to complete this assessment,” Pete Wedderburn writes. “If the airway is clear, breathing has ceased, and the colour of the dog’s gums is not a healthy pink colour (indicating that the circulation is not functioning normally), then it’s likely CPA has occurred, and immediate CPR is needed.”

Before starting CPR, or during the process if someone can assist, it’s important to call your local veterinarian or animal hospital and arrange transportation as soon as possible. Your pet will still need professional care, even if CPR is followed through successfully.

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How to give your pet CPR

The most effective method of pet CPR for dogs and cats, based on a study of more than 1,000 different research materials, was published by Dr. Manuel Boiler, of the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Daniel J. Fletcher, of Cornell University, in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.

Boiler and Fletcher recommend administering CPR in 2-minute cycles of uninterrupted chest compressions, with an alternation of ventilation and compression. To maintain the following guidelines, the doctors urge, a partner may be necessary:

  • Chest compressions with intubation and ventilation should be performed simultaneously.
  • Mouth-to-mouth ventilation should be administered at 10 breaths/min without interruption to chest compressions.
  • Chest compressions should compress chest by one-third to half its width, at a rate of at least 100 compressions/min, allowing full recoil between compressions (push hard and push fast).

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CPR For Smaller Animals

For smaller animals, the most effective maneuvers are slightly different.

PetMD recommends dogs weighing less than 30 pounds be laid on a flat surface, with your palms cupped and held above the heart.

  • Compress the chest up to an inch for one second, and then let go for a second, maintaining a rate of 100 compressions a minute.
  • If you are alone with your pet, position your face over its snout and breathe into its nose once for every five compressions. With a partner, administer mouth-to-mouth only every two to three compressions.
  • Continue CPR until your dog begins to breathe, or until after 10 minutes without a response.

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CPR can be a life-saving measure if performed properly and early enough. But, as mentioned previously, finding professional medical care as soon as possible is still crucial to the health of your pet. The long-term effects of any untreated conditions that initially led to cardio-pulmonary arrest could prove fatal.

Keep your pets safe and your knowledge sharp, and you’ll be prepared for any emergency. Follow the link below to learn more about how you can make the most of summer by bringing your pet boating.


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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee. Find more about Matthew on his personal website.