Just like a human medical emergency, follow the same DRSABC principles of handling an animal medical emergency.

  • D – Danger – make sure it is safe to approach your pet. Use a blanket/ towel to handle cats or a makeshift muzzle for larger dogs if required.
  • R – Response – determine if your pet is conscious – look for any signs of movement.
  • S – Send for help – ask another person to call us while you assist your pet.
  • A – Airway – only check the airway if your pet is unconscious – pull the tongue out of the mouth and look for any obstructions.
  • B – Breathing – watch the chest to see if it is rising and falling. If your pet is not breathing administer two breaths.
  • C – Compressions – After two breaths if no signs of life, commence CPR.

If your pet has a heartbeat but is not breathing you need to undertake artificial respiration – select this link.

If your pet has no heartbeat and is not breathing you can undertake Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) as per below.

How to perform CPR on your dog

1. Lay your pet on their right hand side, with the head and neck gently extended straight.

2. Place your left hand fully under the chest of the pet where the heart would be situated.

3. Place your right hand on top of your pet's chest where the heart is situated.

4. With the heel of your right hand, press in firmly to squeeze the chest wall over the heart to stimulate cardiac activity. For small dogs and cats use your fingers and thumb. Place your fingers underneath the chest and compress the heart between your fingers and thumb.

5. Compress the chest wall firmly at a rate of 2 compressions per second. For small dogs and cats compress the chest wall gently but sufficiently enough to compress 1/3 to 1/2 the chest wall. If breathing for your pet as well, administer 1 breath every 6 seconds. Recheck signs of life (consciousness, response, movement, breathing) regularly.

6. Transport to vet immediately. If you have a driver, continue CPR while in transit.

Heart beat rates (BPM)

  • A small dog’s heart beats 100-160 times per minute.
  • A medium/ large dog’s heart beats 60-100 times per minute.
  • A cat’s heart beats 140-200 times per minute.
  • Puppies and kittens may have a pulse of 250 beats per minute.

All animals that have been involved in a trauma need to be checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Some injuries are not always obvious and may cause problems days, months or years down the track.

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