How to Give Your Pet CPR in Emergency Situations – 2023 Guide

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) for pets is a critical emergency procedure that can save a pet’s life before reaching a veterinarian. While the basics of pet CPR share similarities with human CPR, there are essential differences to be aware of. This guide will equip you with the latest guidelines for performing CPR on pets in 2023.

Recognizing the Need for Pet CPR

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Before administering CPR, it’s crucial to identify whether your pet requires it. Signs that a pet needs CPR include unconsciousness, a lack of breathing, or the absence of a detectable heartbeat. Quick assessment and reaction can be pivotal in these situations.

Assessing Your Pet’s Condition

First, ensure the environment is safe for both you and your pet. Check for responsiveness by calling your pet’s name or gently tapping them. Look for the rise and fall of the chest to indicate breathing and try to feel for a pulse either on the inside of the thigh, where the femoral artery is located, or over the heart.

Decision to Proceed with CPR

If there’s no breathing or pulse, CPR is necessary. Place it on a flat surface, ideally on their right side. For barrel-chested dogs, it may be more effective to position them on their back. Ensure there is no obstruction in the pet’s airway by opening the mouth and looking inside.

Executing Pet CPR

Performing Pet CPR involves two main actions: chest compressions and rescue breaths. The process differs depending on the size, with smaller animals requiring more delicate handling.

Chest Compressions

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For pets under 30 pounds, use one hand to perform compressions. For larger ones, use both hands. The compression rate is similar to humans: 100-120 compressions per minute. The compression depth should be about one-third to one-half of the chest width. After every 30 compressions, proceed to rescue breaths.

Administering Rescue Breaths

Close your pet’s mouth and breathe directly into their nose until you see the chest rise, which should take about one second. The rescue breaths should be given after every 30 chest compressions. Continue with cycles of 30 compressions and two breaths until you reach a veterinary clinic or an emergency response arrives.

Post-CPR Care

After successful CPR, it’s imperative to transport it to a veterinarian immediately. Even if they seem to have recovered, internal injuries or complications may not be immediately apparent.

Immediate Actions Post-CPR

Keep your pet warm and comfortable while ensuring they have a clear airway. If consciousness is regained, offer comfort and reassurance as they may be disoriented or scared.

Veterinary Follow-up

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At the veterinary clinic, your pet will be examined for any underlying conditions that may have caused the emergency. The vet may perform diagnostics like blood work or imaging to determine the best course of action for your pet’s health and prevent future incidents.


By understanding the proper techniques and actions to take when your pet is in distress, you can become an invaluable first responder in emergencies. Remember, while pet CPR can be a life-saving procedure, it’s also important to have regular veterinary check-ups to ensure your pet’s heart health and to discuss any specific CPR instructions for your pet’s breed or health condition.