CPR For Pets

3 min read
Jun 27, 2023

By the time you realize you need CPR training for your pets, it may be too late. There are several things you can do to make sure you are prepared when a pet emergency strikes. Always keep your veterinarian’s emergency number handy. Don’t rely on 911 operators to assist you. Their specialty is people emergencies, and they will likely refer you back to your own veterinarian.

Your local chapter of American Red Cross offers pet first aid classes which can help you understand how to evaluate an emergency situation as well as how to administer basic first aid. You’ll also learn how to administer the Heimlich maneuver and CPR to your furry family member. 

Dog is Unconscious

If you discover your dog or cat is unconscious, there are a few things you should check for right away. The outcome of this assessment will be valuable to your emergency veterinary contact.

  • Does your pet have a clear airway? 
  • Are they breathing?
  • Do they have a heartbeat?

Be careful if your pet wakes up as you are assessing the situation. Your dog or cat may become frightened and try to bite you.

Note: This blog is not meant to replace the training and advice of a medical professional.  Please consider taking a pet first aid class in your area. Your vet may be able to refer you to an organization that offers classes in your area. Nothing in this article should be construed as veterinary advice.

Artificial Respiration

If your dog has suddenly stopped breathing but his heart is still beating, consider artificial respiration. You may recognize this as “mouth-to-mouth” in human terms. This is not the time to be prudent about germs or slobber; your dog may need help.

How to Give your Dog Mouth to Mouth

  • First, lay your dog on his side on a flat surface.
  • Make sure that your dog has stopped breathing. Performing artificial respiration when your dog is still breathing can worsen the situation. Watch for the rise and fall of the chest. Feel for breath on your hand (or hold your phone screen to his nose/mouth to see if it fogs). Check his tongue; it can turn blue from lack of oxygen.
  • Clear the airway. If you can see an object stuck in his throat, grab it. If the object won’t budge, use pliers, or another tool to get a good hold on it. If you still can’t access the object, use the Heimlich Maneuver for pets.
  • Only when the airway is clear should you begin rescue breathing. Your dog should still be on his side on a flat surface.
  • Lift the chin to straighten his throat. Wrap one hand around his muzzle to hold his mouth shut.
  • Place your mouth over your dog’s nose and blow just enough to see his chest expand (blow harder for large dogs, gently for cats and small dogs). Wait for the air to leave the lungs before breathing again.
  • Administer one breath every 3 seconds until your dog breathes on his own or you can access medical assistance.


If your dog’s heart has stopped, consider beginning CPR. There are some small differences between CPR for large dogs and small dogs or cats.

CPR for Pets Under 30 Pounds 

  • Lay your dog on her side on a flat surface.
  • Place your palm on her rib cage directly over her heart and your other hand on top of it, the same as you would for a human patient.
  • Push down on your dog’s chest approximately one inch and repeat at a rate of 80-100 beats per minute, quickly and firmly. Repeat until your dog’s heart begins beating on its own. If your dog’s heart begins beating but she’s not breathing, monitor her heart rate closely while continuing artificial respiration.

CPR For Pets Over 30 Pounds

  • Lay your dog on her side on a flat surface.
  • Place one hand on top of the other over the widest portion of the rib cage, not over the heart.
  • Keeping your arms straight, push down on the rib cage. Compress the chest ¼ of its width. Squeeze and release rhythmically at a rate of 80 compressions per minute.
  • Continue CPR until your dog breathes on his own and has a steady heartbeat.

Protect your Pets

Coverage in 3 Easy Steps

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.