Hopefully, you'll never have to use this knowledge, but if you happen upon a pet emergency, you'll be glad you have it - because it just might save your pet's life.
The American Red Cross has been teaching pet CPR for quite some time. And their techniques are easy for pet owners to remember - just follow these simple ABCs:
A is for Airway. You need to be sure your pet isn't choking on something. Carefully open your dog or cat's muzzle and make sure there's nothing restricting airflow, but do not put your fingers in your pet's mouth if he is still conscious. A frightened pet may bite. If you do see something, try to remove it with pliers or tweezers. If it is lodged too deep you can try to dislodge it using quick firm pressure (with both hands) on both sides of your pet's rib cage. You can also place your pet on its side and strike the side of the rib cage firmly with the palm of your hands. Do this three or four times, and repeat until the object is dislodged.
B is for Breathing. If your pet is not choking, assist with breathing. If you have a cat, or a small dog, enclose his entire muzzle (mouth and nose) in your mouth. If you have a large dog, hold his mouth closed and put your mouth over his nose. Exhale. Your goal is to get your pet's chest to expand. After several of these "rescue" breaths, move on to the next step.
C is for circulation and chest compressions. Feel for your pet's heartbeat (where the left elbow touches the chest). If you don't feel a heartbeat, perform chest compressions. For cats or small dogs (under 30 lbs), place a hand on each side of the ribs where your pet's elbows touch his chest and squeeze in rapid succession. For medium or large dogs, cup one hand over the other and place it at the widest part of the chest - then compress rapidly - pressing down 1-3 inches, depending on the size of your dog.
Alternate between rescue breaths and chest compressions - small animals need one breath for every five chest compressions. For large dogs, give one breath for every ten chest compressions, ensuring your pet is getting 20-30 breaths per minute.
They key to pet CPR is keeping calm. Of course, it also doesn't hurt to be prepared. Luckily, the American Red Cross offers pet CPR training, and you can try these methods beforehand on dog and cat mannequins. To get registered for a class, visit the Red Cross website, and locate your local chapter.
Would you take a pet CPR class? Let us know in the comments below.