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CPR For Your Pet

When you first hear of doing CPR on animals, you might think it sounds absurd. Not to the American Red Cross, which has put out a book called Pet First Aid.

In fact, some Red Cross branches are offering a course in it. CBS 'This Morning' demonstrates what those courses entail, with the help of veterinarian Kevin Kuhn.

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Kuhn teaches the course for the greater Buffalo chapter. He says fortunately, it isn't often that people will need to use CPR on a pet:

"But it's similar to human CPR," he explains. "When you need the information, you need it now. It's good to be prepared."

Kuhn says CPR is something to recognize when the animal is in distress: injured by a car, or in a drowning situation, or when suffering from a disease which affects the heart and lungs.

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Here are some basic steps:

  • Make a quick assessment. Make sure the animal is not conscious.
  • Check the airways. Do a quick sweep of the mouth to make sure there is no foreign body or fluid.
  • Look for signs of breathing. On an animal that weighs 30 or 40 pounds, look for the rise and fall of the chest. On a smaller animal, it's hard to see the chest rise and fall. It might be easier to put your fingers up close to their nose. (If you're wearing a watch, look for the condensation of the breath on the watch face.)
If the animal is not breathing, try mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Actually, says Kuhn, it is more like mouth-to-nose resuscitation.
  • Form a tight seal with the mouth, preparing to breathe into the animal's nose.
  • Take one second to one-and-a-half seconds to give each breath. Give two initial breaths and check for a pulse.
  • To do the presses on the animal's chest, first look for the heart rate behind the elbow, then raise fingers and lock elbows as with human CPR.
  • Press five times, counting aloud ("One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand and so on) to regulate each chest compression.
To be prepared, check your pet's pulse when it is healthy. To find out where the normal pulse is, put your hand against the side of the animal's chest, near the point of the elbow. You should feel a good, solid heart rate.

"The other area we can feel the pulse is on the inside of the thigh," advises Kuhn. "With that, we're using our fingertips, feeling high up inside the thigh, against the bone. You should feel a good bounding pulse. With smaller animals, we want to use a light touch, because you can actually stop the pulse."

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