Artificial Respiration and Heart Massage

Artificial respiration is the emergency procedure used to assist air exchange in an unconscious dog. Heart massage (chest compressions) is used when no heartbeat can be felt or heard. When chest compressions are combined with artificial respiration, it is called cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Because cessation of breathing is soon followed by heart stoppage and vice versa, CPR is required in most life-threatening situations. While CPR can be performed by one person, it is easier and more often successful when done by two. One person does the artificial respiration while the other does the chest compressions. To determine which basic life-support technique will be required in an unconscious dog, see the chart on the next page. The following emergencies may require artificial respiration or CPR:

• Shock
• Poisoning
• Prolonged seizure
• Coma
• Head injury
• Electric shock
• Obstructed airway (choking)
• Sudden cessation of heart activity and breathing

Artificial Respiration or CPR?

Is the dog breathing? Observe the rise and fall of the chest. Feel for air against your cheek.

If YES, pull out the tongue and clear the airway. Observe.

If NO, feel for a pulse.
Does the dog have a pulse? Feel for the femoral artery located on the inside of the mid-thigh.

If YES, start artificial respiration. If NO, start CPR.