Much like human CPR, pet CPR is a way to resuscitate an animal whose heart has stopped or who is not breathing. Let’s discuss whether you should be certified in pet CPR, where you can take classes, and how to assess a situation and know whether pet CPR is the right call.
The short answer is yes — every pet owner should know how to do basic CPR. Although no one likes to think about their pet choking, it’s a possibility, so it’s best to take the time to be prepared. You could save your pet’s life, and that’s something you’ll never regret.
You can become certified in pet CPR by taking a course through an organization such as the Red Cross.
The Red Cross offers an online Cat & Dog First Aid class that teaches the basics of pet CPR and also covers several other helpful topics (such as checking your pet’s vital signs, managing bleeding, and what to do in the case of a seizure).
In-person classes are often most helpful, however.
So if possible, try to take a face-to-face CPR course. You can find a class by searching for your location using Pet Tech. Pet Tech offers a 5+ hour class that teaches you CPR techniques, first aid skills, and other general healthcare information for dogs and cats alike. Participants receive a helpful 40-page handbook to take home.
Your local vet or animal shelter might also offer CPR classes.
The Red Cross also has a pet first aid app that shows you how to do pet CPR through videos and supplemental quizzes.
It’s essential to make sure you do pet CPR correctly; if you don’t, your pet might be injured through your efforts, and that’s why it’s best to take a CPR class from a qualified professional where you can watch what they’re doing.
It’s also important to make sure CPR is the right call in a certain situation before beginning.
Starwood Animal Transport Services advises to first check whether your pet is breathing (look to see if the chest is rising and falling) and to check for a pulse (in the femoral artery, near the top of the hind leg).
Only proceed with CPR if your pet is not breathing and has no pulse.
Here are the best practices for pet CPR according to the Beverly Hills Veterinary Association:
- Place the animal on its right side.
- For pets under 30 pounds, hold the chest in your hand and squeeze over the heart. With pets over 30 pounds, use one hand over the other to push down on the chest.
- Press the chest down to ½ of its normal width for a count of one; let go for a count of one. Do this between 100 and 120 times per minute.
- Every 15-20 seconds, close the pet’s muzzle and breathe directly into its nostrils. (The chest compressions, however, are more important.)
- Continue until help arrives.
By learning how to correctly perform CPR, you might be able to save the life of your pet or of someone else’s beloved animal.
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