Pet CPR: Mastering Lifesaving Skills for Your Pets


If you've ever had a pet that's been ill or hurt, you know how scary and confusing it can be. And when it comes to emergency care for your pets, there are some critical skills that every pet owner should have. But are you prepared? The truth is, most people aren't—and their pets suffer as a result. That's why I developed the Pet CPR course: It gives dog owners and cat owners everything they need to know about saving the life of their beloved animals in an emergency situation.

What to do if you suspect your pet is choking

If your pet is choking, act quickly to help them. If you're at home, perform the Heimlich maneuver on a dog or cat. If you're out and about, take them straight to the emergency room.

If they are unconscious and not breathing:

  • Check for a pulse by placing your fingers along their neck (on either side of their windpipe) and feeling for strong pulses beneath the skin; if there aren't any, start chest compressions immediately by pushing down on their rib cage 30 times per minute with both hands in quick succession--it doesn't matter if it's fast or slow as long as it's consistent; then repeat cycles until help arrives!

What to do if you suspect your pet has swallowed something that's causing an obstruction

If you suspect your pet has swallowed something that's causing an obstruction, take them to the vet immediately.

The most common causes of obstructions are:

  • Foreign objects such as toys or food pieces (e.g., bones)
  • Toys that have been chewed up by the dog and then swallowed whole (or almost whole) with pieces still attached

If the object is visible in their mouth or throat, try using gauze to gently remove it if possible without causing further injury to your pet's airway or esophagus. If this does not work and there is no way to reach inside his mouth without risking further damage, call 911 immediately because this could be life-threatening!

What to do if your pet is unconscious, but still breathing.

  • Check for breathing.
  • Check for a heartbeat. If there is no breathing or heartbeat, start CPR immediately.
  • If there is breathing and a heartbeat, do not give oxygen unless the pet has been exposed to poison gases or smoke; in this case, give small amounts of oxygen (1-2 liters per minute) until help arrives or the animal revives enough to breathe on its own again. Do not give large amounts of oxygen as this can cause damage to your pet's lungs if it wakes up before you finish giving them their dose!
  • If the pet is unconscious but still breathing and has a pulse, do not attempt resuscitation unless instructed by a veterinarian trained in veterinary first aid techniques--it could result in further injury or death because he/she would be unable to tell you what's wrong without being able to examine him/her first hand!

How to perform chest compressions on a dog or cat with no heartbeat

If your pet is not breathing and has no heartbeat, you can perform chest compressions to try to restart its heart.

First, check for a pulse by feeling for the pulse at the animal's carotid artery (in the neck) or femoral artery (in the groin). Next, place your hands on either side of its ribcage with fingers pointing down towards its abdomen.

Press down firmly but gently in quick succession--about 100 times per minute--until you feel a "thump" as each compression takes effect. Be sure not to press too hard; if you have trouble finding a spot where it hurts less than others, try another area instead! Your goal is simply to apply enough pressure so that blood flow returns after each compression; this may mean pressing harder than usual without causing pain or discomfort for your pet.

If your dog or cat doesn't start breathing again after three minutes of chest compressions alone (or if they were never breathing at all), call 911 immediately and continue doing CPR until help arrives!

How to perform chest compressions on a dog or cat with a heartbeat.

  • Kneel down next to the pet.
  • Place your hands on both sides of the chest.
  • Push down firmly and quickly about 1/3 of the way in, then release. Repeat this process until help arrives or it's clear that nothing more can be done for your pet at home (e.g., no heartbeat). About 100-120 compressions per minute are ideal; only interrupt compressions for short breaks so you can check the animal's heart rate if possible, but otherwise don't stop unless absolutely necessary (like if someone else needs to perform CPR). If there is more than one person helping, take turns with compressions and switch every two minutes or so to prevent fatigue from setting in too quickly--you shouldn't expect anyone else who isn't trained in CPR techniques as well as yourself!

How to give oxygen with a human oxygen mask, or a veterinary face mask.

  • Attach the oxygen mask to your pet.
  • Adjust the flow of oxygen.
  • Keep the mask on for as long as it takes for them to become alert and responsive again, or until you are told otherwise by a veterinarian. This can vary from minutes to hours depending on how severe their condition is and how much time passes before you start giving them CPR.
  • Take off the mask once they are alert and responsive again.
  • If your cat has facial hair (males), be sure not to put any part of his face inside an open-ended tube like this one because it could get trapped between his whiskers! Instead, use an adjustable "crochet" type face mask like this one.


If your pet is choking, they may be unable to breathe and show signs of distress. These include blue tongue or gums, coughing, pawing at their mouth, and/or trying to vomit. If you see an obstruction in their throat (such as a bone), try removing it with tweezers or by gently pushing on their back while lifting upwards until you feel resistance from the foreign object being dislodged. If this doesn't work, call your vet immediately because there are other reasons why pets may choke that require immediate medical attention!

If your pet loses consciousness after being unresponsive for more than 10 seconds (about two minutes), don't panic--just do chest compressions! First, check if there's any heartbeat by placing two fingers on either side of the neck near where it meets the shoulder blades (this area has several large veins). If there isn't one present yet but you think there might be soon enough: start CPR immediately using 30 chest compressions per minute with two breaths every five cycles instead!


By mastering these lifesaving skills, you can be prepared to help your pet in an emergency. Remember, if you're ever unsure of what to do, call 911 immediately and let the professionals take over.


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