Saving Your Dog’s Life, How to do Canine CPR and Heimlich

Act fast! Your knowledge of Canine CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver may save your dog’s life!

Most dog owners understand that Murphy’s Law is a constant and whatever your dog can do, he most certainly will do. Sometimes this canine mischief is innocent, other times not so much- and your best friend may end up in a life threatening position. It is always wise to be safe, rather than sorry; so we have put together a simple guide with two tried and proven techniques to save your dog’s life. Immediate action can mean the difference between permanent brain damage or death and your canine companion living out his golden years by your side.

Canine CPR

The first thing you must learn about CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) are the three principles, easily remembered by thinking “ABC” or Airway, Breathing, Circulation.

Step 1

Open Your Dog’s Airway

Opening your dog's airway is imperative.

Opening your dog’s airway is imperative.

In some cases there may be an obstruction to your dog’s airway that is the causal factor in his inability to breathe- obstructions can be anything from blood to vomit or even saliva. Regardless of what is blocking his airway you must clear his throat before proceeding. Veterinarians recommend using your index and middle fingers to swab the back of the throat as best as possible.

In other cases it may simply be the positioning of your dog’s neck that is keeping him from breathing. The optimal position to inhibit breathing is to place your dog on his side, tilt his head back and pull his tongue forward. Sometimes this may immediately solve the breathing problem, either way you should at least be prepared for the worst.


Step 2

Breathing Air In

Hold your dogs mouth shut and blow air in through his nostrils.

Hold your dogs mouth shut and blow air in through his nostrils.

To breathe air into your dog’s lungs you must hold his mouth shut and place your mouth over his nostrils, breathe in a total of four times.

You should breathe in with enough force to raise your dog’s chest. If you are breathing with enough force you will feel resistance and hear air entering his lungs.





Step 3

Circulating the Blood

The most important step in the entire process is kick starting circulation to get your dog’s cardiovascular and pulmonary functions operating again. To circulate the blood you must first make sure that your dog is positioned correctly; he should be on his right side and be laying on a hard surface.

Firmly compress your dog's chest 15 times.

Firmly compress your dog’s chest 15 times.

Place the heel of one of your hands on the ribs over his heart (where his left elbow would touch his chest when bent) and then place the heel of your second hand on top of the first and push down. The right amount of pressure will compress the chest about half way to the ground, you should do this 15 times and then breathe into your dog’s nose twice. Repeat the process.

The ideal amount of compressions in one minute is anywhere from 80-100. It has been proven to help if you count out loud – e.g. “one and two and three and four”.

It is recommended that you continue CPR on your way to the vet, continuing CPR for 20 minutes until your dog is able to breathe on his own.




How to Save a Choking Dog

If your dog is larger, leave his paws planted on the ground while you shake his body.

If your dog is larger, leave his paws planted on the ground while you shake his body.

In the unfortunate instance that your canine friend finds himself choking your immediate and knowledgeable action can save him from permanent brain damage or asphyxiation. Pay close attention to the techniques below in case you need to utilize them one day.

The first action you should take is to attempt to dislodge the obstruction that is causing the choking. If your dog is a larger dog you first place your arms under his belly and slide them back until they are just in front of the hind legs (around the groin area), secondly you must lift his rear legs while leaving his front legs planted on the ground, after you have done this the next step is to firmly shake your dog. For simple toys and other chewed items this should do the trick and dislodge whatever was obstructing his airway. Alternatively, if you own a smaller dog follow the first step mentioned above but instead of lifting his hind legs you should lift him off the ground in the upside down position and commence the firm shaking.



The Canine Heimlich Maneuver

Once you have placed your arms below the last rib give a forceful squeeze.

Once you have placed your arms below the last rib give a forceful squeeze.

If the first technique does not solve the issue your next action (if your dog has not fainted) is to perform the Canine Heimlich Maneuver.

If your dog is standing you must tightly wrap your arms around his stomach just under his rib cage and give a quick, forceful squeeze. The majority of the time the item disrupting airflow will come right out.

In the event your dog has fainted you can still help him! Place him on his side and feel for his last rib near his stomach- place both hands, palms down just behind the last rib and firmly (but quickly) press down a couple times.




It is important that if neither of these techniques do not work you must immediately take your dog to a vet!

These dog lifesaving tips are based on information from Dogs: The Ultimate Care Guide .

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