Canine CPR: Four Must Know Golden Nuggets

Did you hear about our upcoming canine CPR training?? Its is hosted online and LIVE! Wednesday, January 29th, 2020 at 7pm CST. Click here to save your seat and join us in this fun, interactive space so you can learn one of the most valuable canine first aid skills!


I am a firm believer that when you understand why and how something works. You can better implement the tactical hands-on techniques. The method behind the madness can help you implement even in the most stressful situations.

In fact, full understanding is paramount in stressful situations. For example, if you understand why you need to put your hands in a certain place for canine CPR chest compressions you are more likely correctly place them without hesitation or question.

So in this article we are going to discuss four must know golden nuggets of canine CPR to help you understand the ins and outs and connect the dots for retention. Not memorization.



So WHY might CPR be necessary and what EXACTLY is cardiac arrest?


  • The heart is an electrically charged pumping muscle that is responsible for maintaining circulation. Circulation essentially is the way we deliver oxygen to our tissues- and remove metabolic wastes from tissues after that oxygenation takes place. So basically, our blood feeds our tissues the “good stuff” that keeps us alive (oxygen) and eliminates by products or “waste” (CO2). The lungs take care of the transfer of oxygen you breathe in to the blood, and the elimination of the CO2 that you exhale from the blood.


  • When the heart stops because there is a disruption somewhere in the system, the organs of the body are not fed the oxygen they need, as there is significantly reduced blood flow. This includes all the bodily tissues but notably the brain, where permanent neurological damage can ensue if proper circulation is not restarted.




When might we encounter a cardiac arrest??? How do we know?


  • In our ABC assessment (prior to beginning chest compressions)- the assessment is designed to quickly determine if the patient is in fact in cardiac arrest. This is achieved by confirming the patient is unconscious, not breathing, and is pulseless (if time allows).


  • It is now understood that dogs tend to experience arrest due to a primary respiratory depression, not a primary cardiac event. So, unlike their human counter parts, dogs don’t typically suffer from coronary artery disease or “heart attacks.” This is an important distinction.


  • Examples of scenarios and conditions where a dog might experience arrest include but are not limited to the following:  Episodes of choking, drowning, shock, acute anaphylaxis, certain cancers, toxicities, severe respiratory diseases, heart disease, severe infection, hypothermia, electrolyte imbalances, metabolic disorders, organ failure, electrocution, and anesthetic reactions.



Who will experience the best success with resuscitation? How can I know if this will work??


  • Success of CPR will be determined by two parts. First and foremost, the reason the dog arrested in the first place, and second on the quality of the chest compressions and ability to quickly diagnose the arrest.


1. So, one must understand that the chances of success are directly determined by the underlying cause of the arrest. If the arrest was caused by something you can immediately fix, for example- a choke your chances of success might be higher. Once you remove the foreign object you have corrected the underlying cause.  If the dog is unconscious once the object is removed, then you proceed with CPR.  The sooner you remove the foreign object and begin the high-quality chest compressions, again, the higher chances of success.

Unfortunately, there are lot of conditions and scenarios that can cause a cardiac arrest that are not such an easy fix... even with immediate medical intervention. If your dog has a preexisting medical condition, then chances of success could be potentially lower.


 2. Secondly, and another very important point, is the quality of the chest compressions administered by the first responder and the ability to diagnose cardiac arrest as quickly as possible.

The RECOVER initiative states that cardiac output via CPR is 30 percent of normal cardiac output.

So, the cardiac output with a functioning, beating heart is much more effective than what we deliver with chest compressions.

And this 30 percent is estimated with the highest quality chest compressions. So, it is imperative that you know and understand the correct technique, depth, and location of chest compressions for your dog.

Cardiac Output is essentially how efficiently the heart is pumping a certain amount of blood. So, the amount of blood delivered over a period of time (or heart rate per minute.)

Any delay in chest compressions can result in reduced blood flow to the brain and vital organs, which can create brain swelling and tissue damage due to lack of oxygen.



So, in a nutshell our goal with CPR:

  • As we discussed earlier the heart works to send out oxygenated blood to the tissues and return deoxygenated blood to remove waste products. This exchange happens in the lungs.
  • When our dogs experience cardiac arrest, we must artificially restore this circulation, so the tissues, and organs- including the brain remain oxygenated. The longer these tissues are without oxygen, the more complications that can arise and also the chances of success and a full recovery decrease.
  • If we maximize the volume and blood pressure through the heart's main vessels, we have a better chance of achieving return of spontaneous circulation. Meaning the heart starts beating again.


In conclusion, this blog post is provided to help deepen your understanding of exactly what canine CPR is all about, when it can be best utilized, and the two most important factors that determine a successful outcome.  I wanted to get your wheels turning so when we jump into the CPR training next week you already have a basic understanding of the process. Getting this little bit of head start, even if it is review, will supplement your understanding of the concepts when we cover them. This promotes and favors retention over memorization.


With that being said, learning the step by step process of appropriate canine CPR, and considering all possible scenarios is best learned in a training or workshop format. An as mentioned before we will cover the nitty gritty details of how to perform canine CPR in our upcoming training.


It will be hosted LIVE next Wednesday at 7pm CST. The workshop will be approximately 1-1.5 hours with 30-minute Q&A at the end.

Click here to register!!


If you cannot make it live, no sweat- I got you covered! You can catch the replay. And if your questions are not answered during the Q&A feel free to post it in the Facebook group, or reach out to me- and I will answer it personally until the Facebook group is archived. Which will be 48 hours post training.


Feel free to reach out to me with any questions regarding this training or registering!


Libbie Fort, DVM











Marie Bossard

Thank you for this CPR training. Just to make sure, there is no need to register to have access to the replay (I cannot attend the live session), right?
Thanks, looking forward to this valuable information!

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