We all love our pets and do our best to take care of them. We take them to the vet, buy them tasty dog food, give them medicine when they’re sick, and so forth. One thing most of us aren't doing, however, is preparing for doggy emergencies. Just like humans, dogs can succumb to sudden medical conditions. Dogs can drown, have heart attacks, choke, and be poisoned, just like humans. Are you prepared for something like this to happen?
Thankfully, there are many experts out there doing their best to increase people’s knowledge of what to do in the event of a canine emergency. This includes everything from simply checking the health of your dog to performing advanced techniques like CPR. The best thing for you to do is to take a class so you know exactly how to do this. This is not a comprehensive medical guide but could hopefully be useful in an emergency!
Your very first step if your dog is in immediate distress or seems to have stopped breathing should be to contact your local animal emergency care provider. If your family vet is open and provides these types of services, that should be your call. Otherwise, you can find a list of a 24-hour emergency vet clinics, sorted by state, right here.
The ideal scenario is to have someone else do the calling while you get to work. If that’s not possible, quickly get on the line with them and then begin the process.
First things first, check your dog’s vitals. You can easily tell if he is breathing by holding your hands on his chest. Then, check for a pulse on the femoral artery.
Next, check your dog’s airway. If you don’t know what happened to your dog, this is an important next step because CPR can’t be performed with obstructions.
If there’s an obstruction, lift your dog up and reach under his stomach, lifting him off the ground near his back legs. Shake a bit to try and dislodge the blockage.
If that doesn’t work, you need to do the doggy Heimlich maneuver. Holding your dog in the same position, rapidly lift up and forward below the rib cage. This should hopefully eject the obstruction.
Now, this might be all you need! But if your poor pup isn’t breathing, hold tight around his mouth to seal it, and put your mouth on his nose to breathe air into his lungs. Do this twice and check his vitals once more.
If there is a pulse, you should never do chest compressions. But if you absolutely can’t find one, lay your dog on his side and position your hands just behind his forelegs on his chest. Firmly push down. Repeat this process. The current consensus among researchers is to perform 30 compressions followed by 2 more breaths, and repeating that cycle for 2 minutes. Remember to check vitals frequently.
We hope you’ll never need this, but if you do, we hope it helps!
Check out this video from the Today Show for even more information and some demonstrations using a doggy CPR dummy.