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If you are a dog parent, needing this is probably your worst fear. But in order to be good, responsible and useful parents, we need to be prepared for the nightmare scenario.

Brain cells need oxygen, and if they are deprived of it for even a few minutes there could be permanent damage, and the cells die. Once the heart stops beating, the brain stops receiving oxygen. If we want our dog to live we need to start its heart, and we have only a few minutes.

If you know what to do, and act fast, you could save a life: massaging a heart could help restore a heartbeat, and with resuscitation we can give our dog the oxygen it needs.

Checking the breathing and looking for a heartbeat

A dog that has lost consciousness can breathe so low that it’s sometimes hard to detect its breathing. If you are not sure if the dog is breathing put a mirror next to his nose and wait for the signs of condensation (look for misted mirror or drops of water on a mirror), and if there is some your dog is breathing. You can also use a paper tissue, if it moves after you put it under a dog’s nose, it means the dog is breathing.

You should search for a pulse. Check the eyes; they get bigger when the heart is not beating.
Look at your dog’s teeth; if when you press the gums they turn white and return to the natural pink color, the heart is still beating. If the blood doesn’t return to gums, the heart has stopped.

How to start CPR

If your dog has lost consciousness, you should check if its heart is still beating. If you cannot hear the heartbeat start with the compressions. If there is a heartbeat but your dog is not breathing start resuscitation.


Lay your dog on its side. Move away any foreign objects and pull the tongue out. Close its mouth, strain it’s neck, put your mouth on its nose and blow the air until you can see its lungs moving. The alternative is making a cylinder between your mouth and your dogs nose with your hands and blowing the air through it.
You should move away and let the air get out of the lungs. Repeat this 10 to 20 times in a minute, until the dog starts breathing on its own.
Check the pulse every 15 seconds, if the heart has stopped beating start massaging the heart as well. Call a veterinarian immediately.

Heart compressions

CPR is a combination of heart massage and resuscitation.

If you have a big or a medium sized dog and its not breathing press your hand on its chest; if the heart is still beating start with the resuscitation. If there are no signs of a heartbeat start massaging the heart.
Lay your dog on its side, put the palms of your hands on its chest next to its left shoulder blade. Press down in a rhythm 100 times in a minute, pushing towards its neck.

After 15 minutes of heart massage resuscitate for 10 seconds. Continue the CPR until you feel the pulse, then continue only with the resuscitation.
If there are two people present, one massages the heart for 5 seconds and then the other resuscitates.

If you have a small dog, the procedure is a bit different.
Lay your dog down on its side with its head leaning lower than the rest of its body. Put its chest between your thumb and index finger right next to its elbow. Support your dog’s back with your other hand.
Press firmly and push the chest toward its neck. Repeat this in the fast rhythm 120 times in a minute. After 15 seconds of heat compressions resuscitate for 10 seconds. Continue with the CPR until you can feel the pulse, and then resume only resuscitation.


Look for a veterinarian’s help immediately.


  1. Sarah Cummings
    On July 19, 2018 at 8:11 pm, Sarah Cummings said:

    Wow I had no idea you could give a poor doggo CPR. Such good advice! Thank you!

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