1 Minute CPR Lesson That Could Save Your Dog's Life

canine cpr
Bronx, alive today thanks to CPR.
I witnessed a near-death experience. Well, not so much near-death as death-death. In some ways, I participated in it -- just not in any Flatliners sort of way.

One fall night, my then-boyfriend and I were making dinner. We left the back door open because the dogs were outside playing and peeing and doing what dogs do. As we sat down, I heard the strangest noise, and as we realized it wasn’t stopping, we tore out into the yard to see what was going on. There we found what looked like a horrible dog fight.

We should have been so lucky.


The dogs had been wresting, and Dobler’s canines got caught in Bronx’s collar. As they tried to break free, the collar twisted. And twisted. And twisted. It was so tight that we couldn’t free Dobler and we couldn’t undo the clasp on the so-called safety collar. As I worked to cut through the collar, trying knife after knife (a miraculous pair of kitchen shears finally did it), we all watched Bronx’s eyes roll slowly backwards and his tongue loll as he passed out ...

He had no breath, no heartbeat, nothing.

My neighbor and I frantically started CPR -- and after what seemed like hours, his tongue moved. And then his chest. And finally, his eyes rolled sloooowly back around, like a bowling ball in the return machine. About a minute after that, he was up and running around with Dobler.

But he wouldn’t have been, if we hadn’t followed a few very important steps:

1. Remove any obstructions in his airway (in our case, the collar) and tilt his head back. Cup your hands around his snout, holding it closed and leaving his nostrils clear.

2. Blow into his nose -- you are going to have to put your mouth around his nose for this -- and watch to see if his chest expands. If it does, perfect, release your hold and let his body exhale. If it doesn’t check the airways again. Do this every 5 seconds or so, one breath each time.

3. Chest compressions are necessary only if your pup has no heartbeat. Put your ear down over his ribcage and listen -- you’ll hear it if it’s there. If there is no beat, make sure he’s on his right side and place one hand on his ribcage, just behind where his elbow touches. Your other hand goes on top, just like you see on Grey’s.

4. Press down and release in smooth movements. Each compression should push down about 1.5 inches (this might be less for smaller dogs, so ask your vet). Do 10 to 15 compressions and then alternate with a breath. Stop and watch to see if your dog comes around and, if not, repeat the process.

5. Get your dog to a vet. If you don’t know what caused the problem, you need to. And your dog needs to be checked for brain damage (in my case, trachea damage) and other potential side effects.

So, what have we learned?

Lesson 1: Learn canine CPR.

Lesson 2: Always have an awesome pair of kitchen shears on hand.


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