Saving Your Pet with CPR

Saving your pet with CPRDo you know how to react in the event of a veterinary emergency? Are you prepared to save your four-legged friend’s life? Are you familiar with saving your pet with CPR?

Although human anatomy is vastly different than that of a dog or cat, the basics of our cardiovascular systems are similar enough to make CPR a viable option for saving your pet. Even better, if you’re trained – or even familiar – with human CPR, you’re ready to save your pet.

Check for a pulse, by feeling for a pulse on his femoral artery, which is located on the inside of his thigh, close to where it meets his body. Other area’s to check for a pulse are below the ankle, where the left elbow touches the chest, and below the wrist. If you feel a pulse, do not perform compressions.

  • Tip: Practice taking your dog or cat’s pulse when they’re healthy and resting, so you’ll be experienced when it’s time for saving your pet with CPR.

Look for other warning signs: His gums will appear gray and his pupils will be dilated if he’s in cardiovascular distress.

Saving Your Pet with CPR

As with human CPR, you’ll need to breathe and pump your pet’s blood for him when you perform CPR. Start by laying your pet on a flat, firm surface on his right side, with his head and throat extended to clear his airway.


  1. Start by administering a rescue breath. Hold your pet’s mouth closed, cover his nose with your mouth, and exhale until his chest rises.
  2. Administer chest compressions. Place your hands on his ribs where the elbow meets his chest. For pets under 30 pounds, thrusts should compress the chest 1/2 – 1 inch, for pets 30-90 pounds administer compressions 1-3 inches in depth and pets over 90 pounds need compressions 2-4 inches.
  3. Chest compressions should be done at a rate of 100-120 times per minute or 30 times per breath.
  4. Check for responsiveness. If your pet’s pulse returns or he starts breathing, discontinue pet CPR.
  5. Continue CPR until your pet revives or for 20 minutes pass. If your pet hasn’t regained heartbeat or breath after 20 minutes, it’s unlikely continued CPR will revive him.

Need a reminder for when you’re away from the computer? Download our print-ready instruction sheet.

Never practice CPR on a pet that isn’t injured. Administering CPR to a well animal can harm it.

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