Before performing CPR always assess if there is a danger to yourself (e.g. look for any potential threats such as electrical wires etc.)
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PERFORM CPR WHILE DRIVING.
Lay the animal on its side on the ground or on a flat surface such as a bed or table.
A = Airway
- Check to see if the nose and mouth are free of fluids/objects
- Extend the tongue so you can visualize the back of the throat and clear the airway using your finger.
DO NOT PLACE YOUR FINGERS IN THE MOUTH OF A CONSCIOUS ANIMAL – THERE IS A RISK OF BEING BITTEN.
B = Breathing
- If the animal is breathing, move to step 3.
- If the animal is not breathing, provide oxygenation via a mask attached to an oxygen cylinder or breathing bag.
- “mouth to snout” can be performed but is discouraged due to the risk of zoonotic disease. This is done by sealing the mouth and lips by placing your hands around them, holding the muzzle closed and forcefully exhaling into the nose. 4-5 breaths are delivered rapidly before checking the animal. This can be repeated.
DO NOT TO THIS IN A CONSCIOUS ANIMAL – THERE IS A RISK OF BEING BITTEN.
C = Circulation
- The heartbeat is often felt on the chest wall just behind the elbow, or it may be heard using a stethoscope.
- The most reliable site to feel the pulse is the femoral pulse, which is up in the groin.
DO NOT START CHEST COMPRESSIONS BEFORE CHECKING FOR A HEART BEAT.
- Kneel beside the animal, placing the palm of one hand over the heart and the other underneath the animal.
- Compress the chest around 1-2cm in smaller animals, and 3-4cm in larger animals.
- Perform five chest compressions for each breath, then check the animal.
WHAT IS IT?
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR is used to treat an animal that is not breathing and/or has no detectable pulse or heartbeart.
CPR is based on the ABCs:
It is important to follow the ABC order.
BE PERSISTENT – IT MAY TAKE SEVERAL MINUTES BEFORE AN ANIMAL RESPONDS TO CPR.
If resuscitation efforts continue for beyond twenty minutes it is unlikely that an animal will be revived.
NOTE: EVEN WHEN PERFORMED BY AN EXPERIENCED VETERINARIAN, CPR IS NOT ALWAYS SUCCESSFUL. SOME ANIMALS MAY BE TEMPORARILY REVIVED BUT ULTIMATELY DIE, AND OTHERS MAY NOT RESPOND, DUE TO THEIR UNDERLYING CONDITION.
CPR is indicated if your pet:
- Stops breathing
- Has no heartbeat or pulse
- Is gasping or appearing to choke
- It may also be indicated in kittens during queening if the mother fails to resuscitate the offspring
It is essential that you get your pet to the vet as soon as possible as the clinic will have enough staff, equipment and drugs to help stabilise and support your pet better. At the clinic, your vet may intubate your pet and deliver oxygen. Drugs such as adrenaline may be given to kick-start the heart.
If CPR is successful, most animals require intensive care and very close monitoring thereafter as they may arrest again or may require some time to return to normal. The underlying cause may require investigation and treatment.
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