Friday, October 23, 2009


If you have a dog or a cat, have you ever given any thought as to whether, if necessary, you could, or would, give it nose to mouth resuscitation?

The question “Would you do it?” was asked to a large group of pet owners. Sixty three percent of dog owners and fifty three percent of cat owners said they would be at least SOMEWHAT likely to perform CPR on their pet in the event of a medical emergency.

When I read that, I had one immediate thought …. And three visions.

My first thought was to disbelieve that such a low percentage of owners would consider doing it. I’d do it in a heartbeat to my little Squeaky if her life depended on it. I don’t even consider myself one of those loopy owners who treats their animals like a child. But that little kitty is mine and looks to me for help; of course I’d give it a try.

Now the three visisons were the following:

Would I do nose to mouth resuscitation on a drooling dog? I’m actually glad I don’t have to answer that, because I would never, ever have a breed that drools in the first place. I don’t even like to be within 10 feet of a drooling dog! I’ll get close enough to snap a picture, but close enough to be struck by flying spit? Never.

So I’d guess the other 37% of dog owners in the poll had drooling breeds and that was what was holding them back from total commitment. As for a cat’s tiny sweet nose and mouth, what’s the matter with those 47% wimps?!

In spite of all this, I do think it will do us all good to read how to handle a dog or cat resuscitation. So here it is, straight from a vet's (nondrooling) mouth:

Remove any foreign material from the airways (nose and mouth) such as vomit.

The tongue needs to be pulled forward so the tip is just beyond the front teeth. The mouth is then held closed with the lips positioned over the teeth. This should make an airtight seal. Extend the head and neck gently so that roughly nose to tail is a straight line.

Blow firmly into the nose using your lips to seal around the nose.

Look at the chest to see it rise. Feel for the resistance of the animal’s lungs as you breath into it. Once resistance is felt allow the air to escape. Over-inflating the animal’s lungs will damage them.

If there is leakage of air from the animal’s mouth reposition the lips and tongue.

If there is resistance without the chest rising then look for a foreign object in the airway. Small pets can be lifted by their hind legs to try and dislodge the object. Once the object has been removed recommence resuscitation.

Give 5 full quick breaths and then quickly assess cardiac function.

If the heart is beating continue mouth to nose resuscitation.

As our pets vary in size from a cat or a small dog to a large dog like a St Bernard the rate and volume of air for each size does differ. For a cat or a small dog give a breath once every 3 seconds (20 breaths/min). For a medium dog give a breath once every 4 seconds (15breaths/min). A large dog requires 12 breaths/min (1 every 5 seconds) and usually every bit of air in your lungs.

After one minute stop and reassess your pet. Watch for signs of breathing and check the heart.

If not breathing continue mouth to nose resuscitation. Continue the resuscitation in transport to the nearest veterinarian, reassessing approximately every minute.

Now go take care of your pet with assurance! Forewarned is forearmed.

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