The Biscayne Times

Aug 03rd
How’s Your Pet CPR? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
March 2020

Learn first-aid for dog and cat emergencies

Nbigstock-Dog-Doctor-Beagle-Dog-With-St-281136760othing tops taking a pet in distress to a veterinarian. A vet is always best equipped with the know-how and means to treat sudden health problems. But just as in a human emergency, it’s important for family members to know how to administer first aid, the initial attention that can stem damage to a body until medical intervention arrives.

Years ago I was faced with a lifeless newborn puppy. I performed human CPR, which I now know was wrong. If only I’d had a little training.

Pet care professionals, such as groomers, dog walkers, and trainers, as well as rescue volunteers and pet owners, can become ready to handle pet health emergencies by taking an online training course in cat and dog first aid. Pro Pet Hero ( offers a 100-minute video tutorial program for $49.95 that earns viewers a two-year certificate in pet first aid. How to handle such situations as a sudden illness, injuries, allergic reactions, and respiration and cardiovascular arrest all are addressed in the online course.

Watching video demonstrations of CPR will get you off to a good beginning as you learn proper lifesaving techniques. Pro Pet Hero offers free viewing of your pick from 46 videos, including several on CPR. It bears repeating that this can’t replace subsequent and immediate veterinarian intervention, but it can help preserve health until that happens.

Dances with Dogs has offered pet care services since 2002. Owner Katie Casell says that DWD provides training, dog walking, and pet sitting in Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, and Kendall. Casell is a certified pet first-aid and CPR instructor who has trained volunteers with pet rescue and dog therapy organizations. Her Pro Pet Hero program is more intensive than watching the videos; she gives four-plus hours of instruction to groups of 15-20 people. The spring class costs $99. Call 786-299-1552 to sign up (

CPR Florida has certified American Heart Association instructors who teach pet CPR and first aid. The next scheduled session is at their West Palm Beach office on Saturday April 18, at 9:15 a.m. Sign up for the $80 course at, or call 888-388-9250.

Two important areas of pet first aid are AR (artificial respiration) and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The website PetMD gives step-by-step coaching on how to safely administer these life-saving techniques to cats and dogs of all ages and sizes. It’s important to know beforehand your individual pet’s recommended procedures. For example, CPR compressions for kittens are different from CPR compressions for dogs larger than 25 pounds.

If you suspect your cat or dog isn’t breathing, take these recommended steps:

• Check for breathing by placing the back of your hand near the pet’s nose or placing a mirror up close and look for a foggy mist.

• Check for a femoral artery pulse by putting firm finger pressure on the inside of the animal’s thigh. If there’s a heartbeat but no breathing, you must begin AR, but only if the animal is unconscious or semiconscious; otherwise you run the risk of being bitten or scratched in the face.

• Open the mouth and remove any airway blockages. Pull the tongue forward and close the mouth.

• Straighten the neck and breathe a short puff into the nose every five seconds.

• The pet’s chest should rise and fall with your breath. Give five short breaths then check again for breathing and a pulse. Repeat the process if necessary, giving ten breaths per minute.

• If the pet’s heart has stopped and there’s no breathing, you must perform AR and CPR.

• Lay your pet on its side, resting on a flat surface, preferably the floor.

• From behind and above the pet with its legs away from you, cup a hand around the chest, over the heart, and behind the dog’s elbow. With fingers and thumb on either side of the chest, firmly squeeze the chest one-half to one inch.

Dogs over 25 pounds need both your hands for compressions, one on top of the other, placed on the highest, widest, and middle part of chest. Keep arms straight and compress one to three inches.

Give 100-120 compressions per minute, with two mouth-to-snout breaths every 30 compressions, then check for a pulse. Release the chest after each compression. Repeat the process until a heartbeat returns or 10 to 20 minutes have passed.

Of course, you can’t perform AR or CPR while driving the pet to a vet. Ideally, you should give the breaths and compressions while someone else does the driving. There are a lot of steps to follow in the heat of the emergency. It’s recommended that pet owners do a Google search and print out an illustrated pet CPR poster to keep handy on the refrigerator, just in case.


Janet Goodman is a Miami Shores-based dog trainer and principal of Good Dog Bad Dog Inc. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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