Canine C.P.R.

Canine C.P.R.

At Denver Dog Works we specialize in canine sports and working dogs. Our training school is not like any other in the Denver area. We train your dog after he already has manners (well, we train for that too) and provide you and your dog “fun” and “challenging” avenues to build the human-canine bond. It is my opinion that every dog needs a job to do. Whether that job is competing in agility, working as a service dog, hiking in the mountains with you, just being a couch potato, or just fetching the morning paper, they need something to occupy their time. With that, dogs can get themselves into trouble, sometimes life-threatening, and you should know what to do in case of an emergency. Denver Dog Works is one of the only schools in Colorado that teaches a canine first aid and C.P.R. course. It not only teaches you how to respond in an emergency, but certifies you too!

In this article I am going to talk about canine cardio pulmonary resuscitation. Knowing this procedure could mean life or death for your best (furry) friend and I will attest I have used it several times on dogs over the years and it does work. I am sure that many of you have been certified from time to time in human C.P.R. at your local Red Cross chapter if you were a life-guard, a boy/girl scout, a babysitter, and myriad other jobs, but did you ever think that your dog may need this life saving procedure too? The steps in canine C.P.R. are very similar to the human counter-part but I do not advise you to expect that the techniques you learned when you were a scout will just magically come back to mind when your dog is in dire distress.

I urge all of you to read this article and sign up for our course in canine first aid and C.P.R. it could be the best decision you ever make for your dog. For more information on upcoming classes check us out at or give us a call at               303-578-9881 anytime.

As I said before, providing C.P.R. to a pet is very much like giving C.P.R. to a human. The same steps are followed:

A. Airway

Is there an open airway from the mouth to the lungs? Can you feel any breath passing in/out of the nose or mouth? Check the mouth by opening the jaws and pulling the tongue forward, and look for any blockages or foreign objects. Remove any foreign objects and check again for breath. If the airway is still blocked, and the pet’s mucous membranes (gums) are blue, then you may need to perform a Heimlich-like action to loosen any object that may be farther back in the throat.

B. Is the animal breathing on its own?

If no objects, food or mucus are obstructing the airway, you may begin artificial respiration. Lay the animal on its side, and gently tilt the head back. Pull the tongue forward. Close your hands around the muzzle to form as airtight a seal as possible, and place your mouth over the nostrils of the pet’s nose. Blow 4-5 breaths rapidly, then check to see if the pet begins to breathe on its own. Smaller pets will need more breaths per minute (20-30) than a large dog that requires only 15-20 breaths per minute.

C. Circulation

Can you feel a heartbeat or pulse? An animal that is alert and responsive, even if it can’t get up, will not require compressions. If there is no heartbeat, then you may begin chest compressions. Lay the pet on its right side, find the point of the pet’s elbow and place it against the ribs. This is where your hands need to go. Compress the chest 1/2 to 1 inch (slightly more for a giant breed or really large dog), and provide a breath every 5-6 compressions (have a second person do the breathing if available). Check for a pulse. Repeat the process if no pulse or heartbeat is detected. Transport the pet to a veterinary hospital as soon as possible; if after twenty minutes your efforts are not producing results, then you have done your best under difficult circumstances.

This article is provided as a general overview of the topic and not meant to be used as instructions at the time of an emergency for your dog. If you would like more information on our canine first aid and C.P.R. classes please give us a call. Always consult your veterinarian for specific information related to diseases or medical care for pets.


Dr. Robert Forto is the training director for Dog Works Training Centers. Dr. Forto hosts a weekly radio program, The Dog Doctor Radio Show, every Saturday at 9:30 am MDT. Dr. Forto can be reached through his website at

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