Dog CPR May Save Your Dog’s Life

There may come a time in your dog’s life when you’ll need to use dog CPR to save her.

Electrocution and some types of poison can stop her heart.

Of course, prevention is the key to avoiding these dangers. Invest some time now to reduce the chances that you will ever need to use dog CPR.

Did you know you can perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a dog?

Yes, if your dog swallows a small object and it lodges in her windpipe, you can use the canine version of the Heimlich Maneuver to dislodge it.

Keep reading to learn how to do both.

Consult with your veterinarian if you are at all unsure of the CPR or Heimlich procedure.

And please remember to always consult with your vet about any health issue affecting your dog.

Just as with human CPR, effective dog CPR uses the A-B-C process: Airway – Breathing – Circulation. If your dog is non-responsive (she does not respond to her name or to a light shake), begin the A-B-C process immediately.

Be sure to do it in the correct order, as there is no point in performing CPR if your dog’s airway is obstructed and she cannot breathe.


The first step in dog CPR is to obtain an open airway. Do not continue to B-Breathing and C-Circulation until you have an open airway.

Please be careful when doing this as, even if she is unresponsive, your dog may bite by instinct.

  1. If her tongue has rolled into the back of her mouth, pull it straight out of her mouth to open the airway.
  2. Ensure that her neck is straight by bringing the head in line with the neck. If she’s suffering from head or neck trauma, do not over-straighten the neck.

  3. Perform two (2) rescue breaths. Do this by holding her mouth closed and then giving mouth-to-nose ventilations. If the breaths go in easily, continue on to B-Breathing.
  4. If the breaths do not go in, or if you detect some resistance, reposition her neck and try the two breaths again.
  5. If these breaths do not go in, inspect the airway by looking into your dog’s mouth. Look down her throat for a foreign object blocking the airway. If you see one, reach in and remove it.
  6. Try two more breaths. If you can’t get them into her, you’ll have to use the Heimlich maneuver.

A-Heimlich Maneuver

Only perform the Heimlich Maneuver if you could not remove the object from your dog’s airway.

  1. Turn her upside down, with her back against your chest. If she’s large and/or heavy, you may need someone to help you hold her.
  2. Wrap your arms around her, just below the rib cage (since you’re holding her upside down, it’s above the rib cage, in the abdomen). Grasp your fist with your other hand.
  3. Using both arms, give five (5) sharp thrusts to the abdomen. The thrusts should feel like quick bear hugs. Perform all five as if each one is the one that will force the object from her airway.
  4. After the five thrusts, check her mouth and airway for the object. If you see it, remove it and give two more mouth-to-nose ventilations. If the breaths still do not go in, or feel restricted, repeat from Step 1, above.


Once you have cleared her airway and given the two rescue breaths, check whether your dog is breathing. If she is breathing effectively, you can now perform dog CPR. If she is not breathing, or her breathing is labored, focus on helping her breathe first.

  1. If her tongue has rolled into the back of her mouth, pull it straight out of her mouth to open the airway.
  2. Ensure that her neck is straight by bringing the head in line with the neck. If she’s suffering from head or neck trauma, do not over-straighten the neck.

  3. Give her 12 breaths per minute, one (1) every five (5) seconds. Each breath only needs to make her chest just rise. Do not over inflate the lungs, especially in a small dog.
  4. If the breaths do not go in, return to A-Airway and A-Heimlich Maneuver.

If the breaths go in properly, proceed to C-Circulation and begin dog CPR. Continue the breathing support if it is still, or becomes, necessary.


Before beginning dog CPR, be sure that you have a clear airway and that your dog is breathing properly. Only begin CPR after completing all steps in A-Airway and B-Breathing.

  1. Before beginning dog CPR, check for major bleeding. Look for pooling or spurting blood. If you find either, control the bleeding by applying pressure with your hand and a gauze bandage.
  2. Check for a pulse in her groin (where the inside of her rear leg meets her abdomen). Be very careful if you check this on a conscious dog, as she may snap or bite.
  3. Lay your dog on her right side, with her back towards your knees.
  4. Place your hands where her left elbow touches her chest. This should be more or less in the middle of the rib cage.
  5. Compress her chest 15 times, followed by two mouth-to-nose breaths. Give three (3) compressions every two (2) seconds.The size of your dog will determine how much you should compress her chest.

    If she’s a small dog, compressions should be a half inch (1/2″, or 1.25 cm).

    If she’s a medium size dog, use one inch (1″, or 2.5 cm) compressions.

    If she’s a large dog, one and a half inch (1.5″, or 3.75 cm) compressions are sufficient.

  6. Repeat Step 5 as necessary.

Once these dog CPR steps have your dog breathing again, or if you are unable to stabilize her problem, lift and move her to the car and get her to your vet or emergency animal clinic.

Let them know that you’re bringing in your dog, and that she has had either respiratory arrest or cardiac arrest. Also provide any other details, such as the cause (electrocution, poisoning or unknown cause). The more information you can provide, the better prepared the clinic staff will be when you get your dog there.

There is no doubt that dog CPR can save your dog’s life if she goes into cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest. Invest some time in reviewing this information and “practicing” on her.

Please remember, however, not to attempt CPR on her if her heart is beating. You might create more problems than you’ll fix if you do.