Do You Know Dog CPR?

*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Many workplaces and organizations offer CPR training for humans. CPR training saves lives, and, in the case of an emergency, can stave off brain death as well. And it’s not just for people.

If your dog needed CPR, would you be able to administer it? Would you even know when CPR was needed? Would you know how to perform the technique, or how much pressure to apply?

If not, you should learn.

What Is CPR?

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a combination of artificial breathing and chest compressions. Typically we use CPR when a person — or dog — has stopped breathing and/or we can’t detect a heartbeat. CPR can restart the heart and breathing, and stave off brain death until you can get help.

Be Careful!

CPR can be very hard on the body. Even if you’re being very, very gentle, it’s still possible to break a rib or do other damage. That’s why, before starting CPR on your dog — or on a person — you should:

  • Make sure it’s necessary (the patient is unconscious and isn’t breathing and/or you can’t detect a heartbeat).
  • Make certain you have training and are sure of your technique. There are different techniques for different types of dogs.

How Do You Perform Dog CPR?

Different dogs require slightly different CPR techniques. The veterinarians at Pet MD lay out different techniques based on size. You can read their recommendations for dogs both under and over 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms.)

The Red Cross, on the other hand, specifies hand placement techniques based on chest size.

  • For cats and small dogs, they recommend placing the heel of one hand directly over the heart, and place your other hand over that one.
  • For deep-chested dogs — that is, dogs whose chests reach or descend below the elbows, place your bottom hand over the widest part of the chest. Deep-chested dogs include Dobermans and Irish Wolfhounds.
  • For barrel-chested dogs like Laboradors and Boxers, put your dog on its back and place your bottom hand over the widest part of the sternum. Lock your elbows and lean with your shoulders directly over your hands.


For all dogs, the Red Cross recommends alternating cycles of 30 compressions with two rescue breaths.

Compressions should be at a depth of one–third to one-half the width of your dog’s chest. Do them at a speed of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.

Rescue breaths

For rescue breaths, lean your dog’s head back gently to open the airway. Then cover your dog’s nostrils and exhale into their mouth until you see their chest rise.

It can be difficult to get the complete picture from text alone. The video below, from emergency vet Erica W. Tinson, can show you what proper technique looks like.

Get Trained Today!

Where can you find training in Dog CPR? Well, the Red Cross is a good place to start. They have an online course in Pet First Aid that you can do at your own pace. They also offer a Pet First Aid App with videos, articles, and other reference information.

Adult education institutions like junior colleges and local parks departments also sometimes offer pet first aid courses. In addition, your local Humane Society or SPCA may have similar courses as well.

CPR training can save a life — including your pet’s life. Don’t wait until you need it!

Featured Image: CC BY 2.0 by Jared Wong, via Flickr

Recent Posts