Of course you always hope that you don’t have to deal with a pet emergency. But it’s best to know what to do if your pet needs first aid, just in case. That’s why the American Red Cross made April Pet First Aid Awareness Month. This post will detail what do to if your pet isn’t breathing or has no heartbeat and how to safely apply Pet CPR.

First, check your pet’s airway to see if there is something stuck in her mouth or throat. If something is obstructing her airway and you can easily remove the object, do so carefully with your fingers, pliers, or tweezers. If the airway is obstructed but you cannot dislodge the item, lay your pet on her side and then quickly and firmly press on her rib cage so that the air from her lungs can remove the object. Continue this process until the blockage is cleared or you arrive at your vet’s office.

Once your pet’s airway is clear, check for breathing again. If she still isn’t breathing, you will need to perform pet CPR.

For dogs weighing less than 30 pounds lay your pet on her right side and then place both hands on her rib cage with one hand just below her heart area and the other just above it.

For cats or other small animals wrap one hand around the pet’s chest, placing your thumb on your pet’s left side and the other fingers on the right side of her rib cage.

For a larger dog, place one hand on top of the other near the heart area.

Next, Compress your pet’s chest so that it reduces by about one-fourth of its total size. Hold for 1 second and then release for 1 second. You will need to do this quickly–100 compressions per minute for a small animal and 80 for a large animal. Every 4 to 5 compressions, stop, close your pet’s mouth, and breathe into her nose until you see her lungs expand. Repeat this until your pet begins breathing on her own or until you arrive at the vet’s office.

For information on what to do in other types of pet emergencies, check out this page from The American Veterinary Medical Association or download the Red Cross’ mobile app.

Remember, even if your pet begins breathing normally, you should always follow up with your veterinarian after an emergency pet situation.

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