Pet CPR: What is it and How to Get Certified

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By Sherry L. Granader.

Imagine this, you come home one day to find your beloved cat or dog lying unconscious and unresponsive on the floor. Quick! What do you do next?Pet CPR

No one wants to think or even imagine such a horrible scenario, but what IF it happened to you? Would you know what to do? Staying calm and doing the right thing requires having the proper knowledge, training and practice to successfully help your pet in an emergency.

Dr. Karen Becker of Healthy Pets on Mercola.com recommends, “If you want to be prepared for any emergency with your pet, I recommend attendance at a local American Red Cross pet CPR class so you can receive hands-on training using a mannequin.” And then “when you get home to your own pet, you can get familiar with finding her heartbeat and practice placing your hands in the proper position for chest compressions.”

The American Red Cross offers local pet CPR classes (including basic first aid). Classes may average from 2-4 hours depending on the options offered. All their local classes are listed at www.redcross.org. Click on “Take a Class,” enter your zip code and select the “Pet First Aid” Category and click “Find Classes” to see the classes being offered in your area. Local kennels, Humane Societies, veterinarians and pet clinics may also know about local pet CPR classes.

While there are many books, instructional videos and even YouTube videos on pet CPR, nothing beats real, hands-on training with an experienced expert. In fact, it could mean the difference between life and death for your beloved four-legged family member.

The ABC’s for Pet CPR

Important Note: The following instructions are not to be considered a substitution for actual hands on training or from seeking professional care.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR, is “the method used to treat an animal that is not breathing or has no heartbeat,” explains www.cesarsway.com.

The following A-B-C formula represents the three critical principles of CPR in both humans and animals:

  • A: Airway
  • B: Breathing
  • C: Circulation/Chest Compressions

Airway:

Make sure the animal’s airway is clear; remove any obstructions (i.e., food, toy or foreign object.)

NOTE: Before attempting CPR, make sure the animal is unconscious to avoid being bit. If they are conscious, use pliers or tweezers to safely remove any obstruction.

Breathing:

Extend the head and give 2 breaths of artificial respirations. For large dogs, close the animal’s jaw tightly and breathe (exhale) into the nose. For small dogs and cats, cover the nose and mouth as you breathe. The animal’s chest should rise each time you breathe air into the lungs.

Chest Compressions:

NOTE: Always check for a heartbeat before attempting chest compressions; they should only be performed in the absence of heartbeat to avoid additional injury. You can find the heartbeat where the elbow of the left front leg contacts the chest.

The rate of chest compressions relates to the size of the animal:

  • Dogs: 60+ lbs: 60 compressions per minute
  • Animals 11 to 60 lbs: 80-100 compressions per minute
  • Animals 10 lbs or less: 120 compressions per minute.

For large dogs, position the dog on its back and compress the chest. For small dogs and cats (and large dogs with funnel chests) lay the animal on its side and compress the rib cage. You can also position the animal on its back and press on both sides of the rib cage. Alternate breaths with compressions at a 30:2 ratio (as in humans).

As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of knowledge and work required – in a short amount of time – to effectively and properly help your unconscious pet.

Dr. Karen Becker of Healthy Pets on Mercola.com recommends, “If you want to be prepared for any emergency with your pet, I recommend attendance at a local American Red Cross pet CPR class so you can receive hands-on training using a mannequin.” And then “when you get home to your own pet, you can get familiar with finding her heartbeat and practice placing your hands in the proper position for chest compressions.”

The American Red Cross offers local pet CPR classes (including basic first aid). Classes may average from 2-4 hours depending on the options offered. All their local classes are listed at www.redcross.org. Click on “Take a Class,” enter your zip code and select the “Pet First Aid” Category and click “Find Classes” to see the classes being offered in your area. Local kennels, Humane Societies, veterinarians and pet clinics may also know about local pet CPR classes.

While there are many books, instructional videos and even YouTube videos on pet CPR, nothing beats real, hands-on training with an experienced expert. In fact, it could mean the difference between life and death for your beloved four-legged family member.

Reviewed and approved by Dr. David L. Roberts, DVM

Photo: Courtesy of Judit Klein via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Sherry is a Nutritionist, Writer, National Speaker, Ghostwriter of books for Natural Medicine Doctors and an Author of 2 healthy cookbooks. She is a Nationally Certified Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer in Pilates, Yoga, Body Pump, STEP and Aerobics with over 20 years experience. She served as the On-Air Nutritionist for QVC television in the United States and the UK and hosted her own weekly “Healthy Living” segments for PBS. Sherry is passionate about helping animals and worked with “Helping All Animals” in Palm Springs, CA. in their rescue efforts, and is a member of the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States. Her experience working as a Veterinarian’s Assistant for many years’ aids in her passion for helping animals lead healthy and happy lives. For more information on Sherry, visit www.sgtotalhealth.com or write to Sherry at [email protected] - call 517.899.1451

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