First Aid: What to Do if your Dog’s Heart Stops Beating

The steps for performing CPR on a dog at home are described below.

Step 1: Check for a Heartbeat

If your dog is not breathing, he or she may still have a heartbeat. It is important to be absolutely certain that your dog’s heart is not beating before performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation; otherwise, you could seriously injure your pet. 

To check for a heartbeat, place two fingers in the “armpit” region on your dog, or in the “wrist” area, above your dog’s uppermost paw pad. Alternatively, you can place your ear to the dog’s chest. If your dog does have a heartbeat – but is not breathing – administer artificial respiration for your pet, which was described in the previous blog post. 

If you are certain your dog does not have a heartbeat, the next step is to perform CPR. If a friend or family member is present, have him or her call a veterinarian to help talk you through the process while also preparing for your arrival to the clinic. 

Step 2: Proper Positioning

Before administering chest compressions you should place your dog in the proper position, on his or her right side with neck stretched forward. Place the heel of your hand behind your dog’s left elbow. Next, place your free hand on top of your other hand. 

Step 3: Cardiac Massage

Once you are in the proper position, press both hands down firmly while also moving them forward, towards the dog’s head. For a dog less than 30 lbs, you should compress the chest ½ - 1 inch. After 5 compressions, give the dog a breath of air. 

To reiterate the previous article, artificial breathing is performed by placing your mouth over the dog’s nostrils and breathing air into the animal’s lungs. 

After you give your dog a breath, continue with the pattern of 5 chest compressions per one breath. For a dog that is 30 – 90 lbs, you should compress the chest 1 – 3 inches while still administering 5 compressions per 1 breath of air.  For a 90+ lb dog, the chest should be compressed 1 – 3 inches but a breath should only be administered per every 10 compressions. 

Step 4: Reassess the Situation

Check your dog for a pulse after 1 minute of CPR and then again once every few minutes. Continue giving CPR until your dog has a pulse. CPR can be continued for up to 20 minutes. 

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Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy™ blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In the case of emergency, always seek qualified healthcare from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy™ blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.

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