'Mouth to Snout': The Benefits of Learning CPR on Dogs and Cats

Q: I saw Dr. Becker on "The Dr. Oz Show" demonstrating CPR for dogs and cats. Is that something pet lovers need to know? I mean, really, I don't think I want to put my mouth over my dog's nose. But I guess I would if I had to. Are there classes in this? -- F.P., via e-mail

A: Yes, there are classes you can take in CPR and first aid. The American Red Cross offers them, and some veterinarians also provide basic first-aid training as part of their practices.

As for the rest of your questions, I reached out to our Pet Connection ER guru, Dr. Tony Johnson of the Purdue University School of Veterinarian Medicine:

"I have had many pet owners tell me that they have performed 'mouth to snout' resuscitation on their pets while en route to the hospital. Whether they have really saved their pet's life or just caused their pet to think, 'Dude, what are you doing?' is still open for debate," writes Dr. Johnson. "The anatomical differences between people and pets makes actual CPR difficult -- it is almost impossible to form a tight seal over their mouth and nose; air blown in the nose usually just comes out the mouth rather than going down into the lungs.

"Also, many pet owners' expectation of survival after CPR has been unrealistically set too high by TV -- everyone seems to be OK after CPR when a happy ending is called for in the script. That's rarely the case in true life, and even less so with pets."

So does that mean you shouldn't bother to learn more about emergency care? That's not Dr. Johnson's opinion. After all, the more you know, the better chance your pet will survive in an emergency. Note: the "what to do" should include finding directions to your nearest emergency-care veterinary clinic as well as its phone number and address.

"Knowing CPR is fine," says Dr. Johnson, "but more general first-aid information is even better to know. I encourage pet owners to take a basic first-aid course, or brush up on pet first aid once they know it through available books and good websites. Knowing how to stop bleeding, treat choking, prevent hypothermia and safely transport a pet to the hospital are essential to know -- and may make a life or death difference for your pet one day."


This article was written by a Veterinarian.

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