How to Perform CPR on My Dog- A Step by Step Guide

Reading Time: 3 minutes


dog cpr

If your dog collapsed, would you know what to do? Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can save the life of your canine companion. Here is how to perform CPR on my dog.

How to Perform CPR on my Dog- A Step-by-Step Guide

Move your dog to a clear spot on the floor. Do not move your dog to a bed, chair or couch, as your pet must lie on a solid surface that does not give way for CPR to work well.

Call out for assistance if anyone else is around. Tell them what is happening and ask them if they will help you. Your helper may assist you in evaluating your dog’s condition, moving and positioning your dog, calling your veterinarian for advice, or securing transportation to the vet.

Evaluate your dog’s condition and situation so you know what to do. Determine if your dog is bleeding, for example. Assess the environment to make sure your dog is safe from water or electric current, for example.

How to Perform CPR on my Dog- Check for breathing and pulse

Determine if your dog is breathing by holding your hand or cheek next to his or her nose to see if you feel her breath on your skin. You can also watch your dog’s chest to see if it rises and falls.

Check your dog’s airway for any blockage if he is not breathing. Pull your pup’s tongue forward as far as possible and remove any obstructions or liquid you see in your dog’s mouth or throat. Use your finger in a sweeping motion that brushes obstructions out of the mouth rather than pushing the object further down your dog’s throat.

Check for a pulse. The femoral artery on the inside of your dog’s thigh is the easiest place to check for a pulse. To find it, run your hand along the inside your dog’s leg where the thigh meets the body. Feel for a slight dip where the femoral artery meets the skin. Press down gently with your fingertips to feel for a pulse. Do not use your thumb or you will accidently feel your own pulse.  If you cannot feel a pulse at the femoral artery, try feeling just above the large pad on the bottom of your dog’s front paw or listening directly to your dog’s chest.

Locate your dog’s heart on the left side of the chest. Lay your dog on his right side then bend his left front leg so the elbow touches his chest – the heart is located where the elbow meets the chest. You can check this spot for a pulse too.

Determine if your dog has a pulse and if your dog is breathing. Perform respirations only if your dog has a pulse but is not breathing. Perform respirations and chest compression if your dog does not have a pulse. Never perform CPR on a dog with a pulse as the procedure can cause serious harm if performed needlessly. Do not perform CPR if your dog resists, as this is a sign that your dog does not need this lifesaving procedure.

How to Perform CPR on my Dog- Position yourself and your dog for treatment

Position your dog for treatment on a stable, flat surface on his right side if your dog does not have a pulse. Do not place your dog on a cushion, mattress or other soft surface.

Straighten your dog’s head and neck to create a direct passage for air to flow into your dog’s lungs.

Pull your dog’s tongue forward so that it rests against the back of the teeth. Gently close your dog’s mouth.

Position yourself behind your dog’s back.

How to perform cpr on a dog

How to Perform CPR on my Dog- Compressions

Prepare for compressions for large dogs, which are those weighing more than 30 pounds, by placing one hand over the other and putting the palm of the bottom hand on the widest part of your dog’s ribcage. Remind yourself of the location of your dog’s heart by bending the left front leg at the elbow to see where it meets the body. Your hands should be near the heart but not directly over it when you perform CPR.

Prepare for compressions for smaller dogs by placing the palm of your hand on your dog’s ribcage, directly over the heart. Place your other hand on top of the first. For puppies, place your thumb on one side of the chest and your fingers on the other side.

Compress the chest of a small dog about an inch then let up. Repeat this action about 80 to 100 times per minute. Sing the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, which has a rhythm of about 100 beats per minute, to time the compressions.

Compress the chest of a larger dog about one-quarter the distance of the rib cage. This means you would compress the chest about one and a half inches on a dog whose chest measures six inches across at the widest point. Keep both elbows straight as you press down on the rib cage delivering quick, firm compressions at a rate of about 80 per minute.

Continue compressions until your dog has a steady heartbeat.

How To Perform CPR on my Dog- Final Steps

Begin artificial respirations

Begin breathing for your dog. If performing CPR by yourself, give your dog one breath of air after every set of 15 compressions. If you have a helper, one person should deliver one breath of air every time the other person does five compressions.

Place your hand over the muzzle and make sure your dog’s mouth is completely closed. Place your mouth over your dog’s nostrils and create a good seal with your lips. Blow gently and watch for the chest to life as air fills the dog’s lungs. Check to ensure a good seal at the dog’s mouth and blow harder into the nostrils if the dog’s chest does not rise.

Administer an abdominal squeeze

Place your left hand around your dog’s abdomen and place your right hand on top. Press down to squeeze the dog’s abdomen, which helps blood circulate back to your dog’s heart. Perform one abdominal squeeze after each set of 15 compressions and a breath.


Continue administering chest compressions and breathing until your dog has a heartbeat and can breathe on his own. Consider discontinuing CPR after 20 minutes if your dog is not breathing on his own.

Seek veterinary care

Contact an emergency veterinarian.

All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.