Pet CPR: Preparing You for Pet Emergencies


Pets are our best friends. They're there for us when we need them most, and they are always ready to lend a helping paw or lick. Even if your pet is the sweetest, most loyal companion in the world, it's important that you know how to perform CPR on them if needed. When an emergency occurs with your pet—whether it's a heart attack or something else—the first thing that comes to mind is probably going straight to the vet. However, if your local veterinary clinic isn't open or simply doesn't have the necessary equipment for performing CPR on animals (including oxygen tanks), CPR can be performed at home until you get professional help from someone who does have access to those resources.

Is CPR for Pets Different from People CPR?

CPR is the same for people and pets. The only difference is that you need to be gentle when touching your pet's chest.

You should use a small flat object, like the back of your hand or an egg carton lid, to compress your chest. A stethoscope can help you listen for a heartbeat while performing CPR on your pet in case there are no signs of breathing or movement after 10 minutes of resuscitation efforts.

What Are the Signs of a Dog or Cat Having a Heart Attack?

When you're out with your dog or cat and they suddenly collapse, it can be hard to tell if they are having a heart attack. There are some signs that may indicate that your pet is experiencing one:

  • Restlessness
  • Panting
  • Drooling excessively (especially if there's foam coming from their mouth)
  • Weakness in the legs or difficulty walking

If you notice any of these signs in your pet, call for help immediately and try to keep them calm until help arrives. Do not administer CPR unless instructed by a veterinarian; doing so could cause further damage to the heart during this critical time. Instead, keep them lying down with an elevated leg position (lying on one side) until professional medical assistance arrives.

How Do You Perform CPR on a Pet?

Pet CPR is a lifesaving technique that can be used to help animals when they're in respiratory distress or cardiac arrest. The first step of pet CPR is assessing the situation and determining whether or not you need to perform it at all. If your pet is unconscious, not breathing, and unresponsive, call 911 immediately and begin rescue breathing (also known as mouth-to-snout resuscitation). If these actions don't work after about 20 minutes of trying them continuously, stop trying and wait for help from professionals.

If you're able to determine that your pet isn't experiencing any major medical emergencies before getting started with treatment techniques like chest compressions or finger sweeps, follow these steps:

  • Make sure you have everything on hand that's required for performing manual compression techniques such as an oxygen tank or defibrillator kit; if not available nearby then make arrangements now so nothing gets in the way later during an emergency situation where time is critical! 
  • Position yourself behind your dog's head so that she cannot see what's coming next--this will prevent stress levels from increasing unnecessarily while still allowing access into her mouth area without having any hindrances during away due to fear factors causing complications down the line if done correctly."

Should I Use a Stethoscope When Performing CPR on My Pet?

When performing CPR on a pet, a stethoscope can be used to listen to the heart and lungs. It can be used to check for a heartbeat, as well as to listen for breathing sounds in the lungs.

It depends on what you're doing with your hands during the procedure, but if you are performing chest compressions or mouth-to-snout resuscitation (MTR), a stethoscope may not be necessary because it will take much longer than using an AED or manual defibrillator.

How Long Does It Take to Perform CPR on My Pet?

If you have been trained in CPR, the procedure should take no more than five minutes. If you are not trained but still want to help your pet, it's okay to try on them if they are breathing normally and have a heartbeat. However, if your vet says no or if they recommend an alternative method of treatment (like administering oxygen), follow their advice.

If performing CPR on a cat or dog sounds like something that would be helpful for you and your pet during an emergency situation--and especially if there is someone else around who can help out--it might be worth considering taking a course with one of these organizations:

What Should I Do If My Vet Says No to Trying CPR on My Pet?

If your vet says no to trying CPR on your pet, ask for a referral to a veterinary cardiologist or an emergency veterinary clinic that has an ultrasound machine. You'll need a referral from your primary care veterinarian in order to see a specialist.

If there is no veterinary cardiologist in your area and you don't have access to one through another practice or hospital, bring your pet immediately (along with any medications) to the nearest emergency clinic that offers 24-hour care for pets.


  • It's important to be prepared for pet emergencies.
  • Know what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on your pet, and when not to try it.


If you have a pet, it's important to know how to perform CPR. The signs of a dog or cat having a heart attack can be subtle, so if you think something is wrong with your pet, don't hesitate to call your vet immediately. If they tell you not to try CPR on their advice--or they don't answer at all--then go ahead and give it a shot!


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