Published: 04 March 2021

If something happens to your pet you will be in a rush to help. Rushing in too fast may put you and the animal at risk. First aid at the scene, whether it is with animals or humans, should follow the principles of DRAB:

Danger – check for danger for you, the casualty or anyone else – remember your pet may be the danger to you. Think about dangers, what could harm you, what action should you take, will the animal hurt you, is there traffic that could hit you.

Response – from your pet and if it is safe to attend to them.

Airways – open the jaws check for obstructions, move tongue out of way, tilt snout.

Breathing – look, listen and feel for signs of breathing.

Decide what you are going to do…

  • Is there treatment that can and needs to be administered straight away?
  • Does your pet need vet attention and are you going to be able to transport your pet to the vet?

If your pet is not breathing for whatever reason you may decide to administer CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation). We would recommend that you attend a First Aid for Dogs course so that you can apply the technique properly and effectively, without causing further unnecessary harm to the dog or other animal

Ideally, CPR is performed while on route to emergency vet care. If this is not possible, contact a vet once the dog has started breathing.

If you are unwilling or unable to administer rescue breaths you can do compression-only CPR. This will move blood around the body and also draw in oxygen.

CPR is not always effective with animals or humans. With humans you would call the ambulance and continue until they arrive. However, with dogs you don’t have that option and need to make that judgement, perhaps following discussion with the vet via a phone call. If they show signs of life stop and reassess.

Any pet who has had CPR performed on them, even if they fully recover, should see a vet immediately.

Learn how to administer CPR - including specific advice on different types of dogs and other pets - on our excellent First Aid for Dogs course. We have a choice of locations and dates available (when restrictions allow), as well as the option to host your own course, join our regular Zoom courses, or learn on our self-paced online course.

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