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You love your dog, you want to give them a unique and fun-filled life, but it is incredible how many people do not know the basics of dog first aid. This is a significant area and a major responsibility for a dog owner, yet it is an area many people are underprepared in.
For most issues, you will have time to get your dog safely to the Vets for professional help. However, there could be rare emergency occasions where you will need to know how to keep your dog alive until you get them the professional service you need.
Administering CPR to dogs can be painful and stressful for them and you. So, it would help if you were sure it was necessary. Probably the most important thing is for you to remain calm. Then it would be best if you considered the following ABC's:
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You have assessed the situation, and you believe you should perform CPR on the dog. This is how you do it:
You will need to lay your dog down on their sides (barrel-chested dogs should be placed on their backs) on a hard and flat surface like a table for most dog breeds. You may find yourself out on a walk. In this case, find the best place possible.
Try to position your dog in a way where they have unrestricted airflow, so stretch and straighten them out and make sure their head and neck are straight and in line.
Make sure the tongue is pulled forward and isn't restricting airflow. Once this is done, you should shut your mouth, which seems counterintuitive.
It would help if you were behind their back and close to the dog and in a comfortable and stable position.
For medium and large dogs, you will do the compressions on the broadest part of the ribcage. This is not directly on top of the heart. You should not do the compression directly onto the heart. You do the compressions with both palms of your hands, with interlaced fingers.
For small dogs, you should only use one hand. Have your fingers over and under the chest, and have the palm on the rib cage that is facing upwards. This is a judgment call depending on how big your hands are and how big the dog is.
The main errors people make are that they do not do the compression quickly enough and are not firm enough.
It would be best if you aimed to do around 15 compressions with a pace of approximately 120 compressions a minute and with enough force to push the rib cage down by about a quarter of its width.
Keep your elbows straight and in line with your shoulders and the dog, and use your bodyweight for consistent compressions. This is a tiring endeavor, and you will be stressed, so if there are people to swap regularly, then do so.
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After each round of compressions, you need to provide them with some air.
After each set of 15 compressions, you should give the dog one breath.
To do this, you need to make sure their mouth is closed, as you will give the air through the nose and not the mouth like you would with a human.
Put your mouth around the dog's nostrils and blow air into them. Do not blow too hard or for too long. You want to see the chest lift as it is inflated with air. Once you have blown into the nostrils, move your mouth away to allow airflow.
After every two rounds of compressions and breath, you will want to give the abdomen/belly a squeeze/push. This encourages blood to return to the heart.
You should repeat the above steps for upwards of 20 minutes, at which time it is unlikely that they will recover. If the dog's heartbeat returns and starts to breathe, you should stop the CPR. Then monitor the dog, and get them to a Vet as quickly as possible.
This article should be saved and used as a resource for knowledge. However, we recommend that you take a dog first aid and CPR course to get practical experience. CPR can cause a lot of damage and pain to the dog even when done correctly, so it is best to practice as much as possible in a learning environment.
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