The ABCs of CPR

The ABCs of CPR

The ABCs of CPR are Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. This is a quick overview of CPR to introduce the initial steps to take which must be done in order.

If you come upon a pet that is not breathing, after determining that the environment is safe, check the throat for obstructions and clear the Airway. Any obstructions in the mouth/throat should be removed manually or by performing the Heimlich Maneuver. Once the obstruction is removed and/or air can pass through the airway, check for Breathing. (Even if you cannot remove obstructions from the airway completely, you can give rescue breaths as long as some air can get to the lungs. It is more important to get air into the lungs than it is to completely clear the obstruction.) You can check for breathing by laying the pet on its left side then watch for the chest expand. Also, if you have a small mirror, you can check for condensation when placed next to the nose/mouth. If the pet is still not breathing after clearing the airway, a few quick rescue breaths are in order. The next step in CPR addresses Circulation. Check for a heartbeat by putting your hand on the left side of the pet’s chest. You can also check for pulses at the femoral artery which is located in the groin area, at the crease where the lower abdomen meets the upper thigh. If the heart is not beating at all, begin chest compressions. Alternate between rescue breaths and chest compressions until you get to the vet. We will learn more about CPR and how to perform it later, this is a summary and is by no means complete instructions on pet CPR.

Once you determine if Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is needed, you can help get oxygen to the lungs and blood flowing to the major organs until you get to the vet. Note: It is very important to make sure the pet is not breathing and does not have a pulse before starting CPR. It can be dangerous to perform CPR on a pet that is breathing normally and has a heartbeat.

More information can be found at these sites:

CPR for Dogs and Cats

Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs

Pet CPR & First Aid

Suggested Books:

Dog First Aid

Cat First Aid


Next Topic: The Pet Oxygen Mask Project