The new guidelines for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) issued today by the American Heart Association, instructing rescuers to start with chest presses before giving mouth-to-mouth, have dog lovers wondering if they too need to revise the “simplest step first” procedure for CPR on pets.
If a dog goes into sudden cardiac arrest, should we now do CAB (compression-airway-breath), as recommended for CPR on people,instead of ABC (airway-compression-breath)? The answer is no.
When attempting to resuscitate a dog inthis life-threatening emergency situation, the American Red Cross advises sticking with the old ABC training, which calls for rescuers to perform “rescue breathing” first.
Sudden cardiac arrest – when the heart stops beating – can occur after a heart attack or as a result of electrocution, near-drowning, or a drug overdose. The victim collapses, stops breathing normally, and is unresponsive.
CPR used to treat an unconscious animal -i.e. a dog that is not breathing and has no heartbeat or pulse – consists of alternating “rescue breathing” (mouth-to-mouth breathing, except in the case of dogs, it’s mouth-to-nose breathing) and chest compressions.
To perform CPR on a dog, lay the animal down (the right side is preferable, but don’t waste time flipping the dog over if he’s already lying unconscious on his left side – the goal is to startadministering mouth-to-nose immediately).
Seal the dog’s entire snout with your hand, place your mouth over the dog’s nose, and gently exhale into the nostrils until you see the chest rise. Give 4 or 5 breaths rapidly, then check to see ifthe pet is breathing without assistance.
If he begins to breathe, but the breathing is shallow and irregular, or if breathing does not begin, continue givingthe dogrescue breaths until you reach the vet hospital or for up to 20 minutes, alternating with chest compressions. For the chest presses, the dog should be lying on his right side.Beyond 20 minutes there is little chance of reviving your pet.
The Red Cross strongly cautions: Do not attemptchest compressionson a conscious animal. Just because an animal is not breathing does not mean there is no heartbeat orpulse – always be sure to check for a heartbeat before starting chest compressions.
To purchase the lifesaving Red Cross volume “Dog First Aid” – a must for every dog lover’s library – go here. The instructions are very clearly laid out and illustrated with easy-to-follow photographs. Everyone in thehouse should ideally be briefed on how to perform CPR on the family dog, or any dog in distress, in the event of an emergency.
As for the newly revisedguidelines for human CPR, the American Heart Association says it made the switch from ABC to CAB because the ABC approach took time and delayed chest presses, which keep the blood circulating.
The new CPR guidelines for humans say that rescuers should pump the chest of the victim harder and faster – pushing at least 2 inches in adults, and pumping at a rate of at least 100 compressions a minute. And that’s helpful advice for rescuing a dog too.
Appropriately enough, a recommended guide to performing effective CPR chest compression is something everyone can easily remember: The beat of the Bee Gees’ classic song “Stayin’ Alive” from “Saturday Night Fever.”
Don’t worry about hurting the victim by performing CPR on him, experts say. Whether you’re trying to rescue a pet or a person, pumping the chest as hard and fast ashumanly possiblewill help them stay alive.