Dear Paws: Several years ago, I lost one of my dogs, “Corny,” to a sudden illness when he collapsed and stopped breathing. Not sure what to do, I rushed him to the nearby vet’s office, but they were unable to revive him.
From that incident, I resolved never to feel so helpless if it should happen to one of my pets again. I learned the basics of pet CPR from that vet, and have since taken online courses to learn more and to stay up to date on changes in performing pet CPR. I urge every pet owner to become familiar with CPR for pets, whether their dog or cat or other pet is young or old. – Janine C., Chattanooga, Tennessee
Dear Janine: Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I know the loss of Corny must have been heart-wrenching—it’s incredibly difficult to lose a part of your family.
Learning CPR is indeed a way to bring a little more assurance to pet owners that they can do something when their pet falls ill. Performing CPR—breathing for your pet, performing chest compressions if the heart has stopped—during the rush to the emergency vet can make a big difference in the outcome.
CPR methods vary between species, of course—and between different sizes of pets. But there is good information to be found from places online like the AMVA (American Veterinary Medical Association, which offers a video tutorial here, or you can watch it below) and certification courses are available. It’s well worth your time to learn this lifesaving technique.
The American Red Cross is one of the most prominent organizations offering certifications in pet first aid and CPR. Learn more at their website.
The ASPCA also offers some basic advice online on performing pet CPR, and several diagrams are circulating online, such as this collection of printable posters hosted at allaboutfrenchies.com that you can print out and place on a wall for immediate reference.
Dr. Janet Olson demonstrates dog CPR in this 2013 AVMA video.
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