Pet CPR: What Every Pet Owner Should Know


Have you ever wondered what happens to pets when they die? It's a serious question that can be difficult to answer. Thankfully, researchers have been working hard on discovering the answers to this question so that we can better understand why our pets are dying and what can be done about it.

First, do no harm.

The first thing to do if your pet is choking is to remove the object that is causing the obstruction. If you cannot remove it yourself, call a veterinarian or take your pet to the emergency room immediately.

If your pet becomes unconscious, ensure that their airway remains clear by gently lifting their chin and tilting their head back. If this does not work, use both hands to open your mouth as wide as possible and grasp any objects inside with tweezers or pliers (or even just fingers). Once removed from the throat, administer CPR if necessary (see below).

If you're unable to find any heartbeat or pulse in an unconscious animal, begin chest compressions immediately: Position yourself behind them with one hand on top of another; press down about 2 inches hard enough so that there's resistance but not so hard that it causes pain or injury; repeat at a rate of 100-120 times per minute until help arrives (or until they start breathing again).

Your pet may need more advanced care than you can give him at home.

If you're not sure what to do, call a vet. If it's an emergency, call 911 or go to the emergency vet clinic right away. Never leave your pet unattended until he has been seen by a professional who can assess and treat him appropriately. If it's not an emergency, take your pet immediately to his regular veterinarian for treatment.

If your pet is breathing but unconscious, place him on his side and clear his airway by sweeping your fingers through the mouth and gums.

If there's food or debris in their mouth, use a cloth to clean it out. If you can feel a heartbeat but don't see any movement from your pet, start CPR immediately (see below).

If no heartbeat is present, begin chest compressions for dogs and cats: Place the animal on its right side with its head facing up; place two fingers of one hand directly over the heart area; press down firmly several times per second until help arrives or another person takes over this task.

If your pet is not breathing and not moving, begin rescue breathing, starting with five quick breaths followed by one second of pause. Repeat these two more times.

If you can't do rescue breathing, start chest compressions: Place your hand on the left side of your pet's chest (or right side if you are a lefty) and push down at least two inches into their chest wall--you should feel their ribs give way under the pressure. Do this 30 times per minute until help arrives or help has been given via 911 call; then resume CPR if necessary.

If you are not sure what to do in an emergency situation, call 911! They'll have instructions on how to handle the situation so that both people and pets stay safe while waiting for professional medical assistance.

If there is no heartbeat or pulse, start chest compressions by placing the hand of one hand over the other so that they are directly over your cat's heart; if needed use a CPR device to administer compressions at a rate of 100 per minute or faster.

If you see breathing and/or a heartbeat, continue to monitor until help arrives or until symptoms resolve themselves on their own (this may take up to 24 hours).

If you're not sure if your pet is breathing, place a hand on his chest to feel for breath or heartbeat--if neither can be felt but he appears unconscious, place him on his side in order to clear his airway by sweeping fingers through the mouth and gums.

You should always call 911 immediately if possible!

  • If your pet is not breathing and not moving, call 911 immediately!
  • If you suspect that your pet is suffering from a life-threatening condition, call 911 immediately!
  • Do not attempt CPR on an unconscious animal unless it has been determined to be safe to do so by a veterinarian or other qualified professional.


If you have any doubt about your pet's condition, it is best to call 911 immediately. In most cases, rescue breathing, and chest compressions will help keep your pet alive until he reaches a hospital where proper care can be administered.

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