Dog CPR – Guidelines are changing

Less than 6% of cats and dogs survive a cardiac arrest in the hosptial/veterinary setting.  This is in contrast to about a 20% human survival rate, in the hospital setting.  The good news is that a team of veterinary specialists is working on revising CPR guidelines for animals to help  increase survival rates. Dr. Fletcher published the preliminary findings of the Reassessment Campaign on Veterinary Resuscitation (RECOVER)  in the June 2012 issue of the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.  What can pet owners do to be prepared, until your pet arrives at the veterinary emergency room:

  • Take a CPR class, one meant for humans.  This will benefit your family more than a pet course and provide you with the basic skills which you can then translate into helping your pet.  Then, you may want to consider taking a Pet CPR class, offered through the American Red Cross.
  • The American Red Cross also sells  Dog first aid and a Cat first aid book
  • Tips on performing CPR on a dog:
    • Veterinary experts recommend that those without hands-on CPR training should not attempt animal resuscitation, as there is the potential to do more harm than good. However, CPR-trained people should do the following while transporting the animal to the vet emergency room:
      • 100 – 120 Chest compressions, pushing the chest to 1/3 to 1/2 its normal depth. Allow the chest to come back up fully inbetween pushes.  If the animal is really small, the ‘two hand technique’ may be not be appropriate and pet owners will need to modify using one hand, or even 2 fingers instead. Compressions should be at the lower half of the breast bone.
      • Trade off doing compressions every 2 minutes if there are enough people present, as responder fatigue may results in leaning on the chest between compressions, reducing their effectiveness.
      • Give 2 one-second breaths mouth to snout (mouth) after every 30 compressions. (Depending on the breed of dog and the injury involved, it may be easier to hold the mouth closed and breath into the snout).

Sounds a lot like human CPR, doesn’t it?  Take a regular, good-quality CPR class – that’s how we train at the firehouse.  And, we have snout barrier devices on the firetruck that we can use for resuscitating dogs.  I haven’t had to do it yet, but I’m prepared to, if necessary.  Photo:DrJustlinLee.com

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