How To Do CPR On A Puppy?

By Subodh / January 21, 2014

The majority of first aid training out there is mainly aimed at delivering CPR to an adult human being this is why many people make the mistake of using the same techniques on puppies and dogs. CPR on dogs like human beings combines heart compressions and rescue breathing. The compression will help the blood to move throughout the body more easily even if the heart is not beating. In order to perform CPR on a puppy you will need to go through a cycle of steps which involve chest compressions and rescue breaths but this will be based on the size of your puppy. Ideally, you will want to have one more person to help you with breathing while you perform the chest compressions. CPR should be continued until you’re able to reach the nearest veterinary clinic.


First determine if the heart has stopped

You should start by putting your ear to the puppy’s chest in order to hear if the heart is still beating. A puppy’s heart is near her side directly behind the elbow on the left. You can also feel the place with your hand. If you are still not sure, you can use a blink tap test, just tap the eyelids. Pups that are unconscious will also blink but if the heart has stopped there will be no blinking so starting CPR immediately is important.

CPR for pups that are less than 20lbs

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The size of the pup has as well as the body’s conformation will dictate how CPR is performed. Pups under 20lbs will need to be revived using a so called cardiac pump i.e. heart compressions. This will squeeze the heart in order to get it to start pumping. Most pet doctors recommend during their animal CPR training that people administer anywhere between 80 to 100 compressions every minute, so this is around 1.5 compressions a second. This can be difficult to do if you have had no training or practice so aim for something over 60 a minute.

You can find the pup’s heart by flexing their left foreleg towards the back. The heart’s center is directly underneath i.e. where the elbow meets the chest.

Put the puppy on the right side on a firm and flat surface. Then cup your hand right over her heart and start squeezing really firmly. You should be pressing around a half inch of your thumb on the one side and your fingers directly across.

Puppies that are very small i.e. that can fit in your hand the compressions should be accomplished with just your finger. Just cradle the pup in your palm and then use your other hand to squeeze exactly as above.

CPR for 20lbs and above


A pup that weights over 20 pounds has really strong ribs and so it will interfere with heart compressions. So the best thing to do here is to use the thoracic pump technique. This will require that you place the animal on its right side, then put your hand on the highest part of the chest and start compressing. This will change the interior pressure of the chest cavity moving the blood forward. Place one hand on the chest, and the other on top of it, then press down around 30%.

CPR training for barrel chested pups like a bulldog will be slightly different. The animal will be placed on their back prior to performing chest compressions. You’ll also need to cross their paws right over the breast then kneel with it between your legs, make sure to hold her paws as you compress directly over her breastbone.

Acupuncture Resuscitation

Some of the most experienced and well trained veterinarians often have a problem resuscitating puppies when their heart stops. When all the CPR has failed it’s time to use a veterinarians’ drug called epinephrine which is used to jump start a stopped heart. But if you’re not in a clinic you will have to stimulate the animal’s own natural equivalent which is called adrenalin by hitting an acupuncture point.

The stimulation point is directly beneath the animal’s nose directly above the upper lip. This should only be used if CPR has failed. Take a clean needle or a common pin and put it into the center of this slit located on the upper lip. Then poke till you reach the bone, then give it a bit of wiggle.  Continue to do this until you reach a doctor.