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Learning the ABCs of animal CPR -- it could save a pet's life
By Bev Horne | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 4/6/2009 12:07 AM | Updated: 9/23/2009 4:29 PM

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A sampling of area emergency pet clinics that are open on nights and weekends:

• Arboretum View Animal Hospital and Emergency, 2551 Warrenville Road, Downers Grove; (630) 963-0424

• Lisle Emergency, 820 Ogden Ave., Lisle; (630) 960-2900

• VCA Aurora Animal Hospital, 2600 W. Galena Blvd., Aurora; (630) 896-8541

• St. Charles Emergency, 530 Dunham Road, St. Charles; (630) 584-7447

It's a moment most of us prefer not to even think about, let alone prepare for.

One second your dog or cat is in the yard playing and the next it's suddenly down. Maybe Fido's been hit by a car, maybe he has simply collapsed, but in that blink of an eye all that matters is trying to keep him alive until you can get him the help he needs.

It's in that instant that knowing how to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation for your pet crosses from the realm of "you've got to be kidding" to "I can't imagine what I would have done without it."

"Knowing the basics could save your animal's life," says Dr. Lori Civello, a veterinarian at Glendale Animal Hospital in Glendale Heights.

It's still crucial to get your seriously injured pet to an animal hospital as soon as possible, she says, but knowing how to do CPR can provide you with some valuable time.

Here are a couple of her tips:

Should a large breed of dog, such as a Great Dane or Doberman pinscher, collapse during activity, it could be due to atrial fibrillation or a fluttering of the heart.

"One can very swiftly and strongly strike over the heart and it could shock the heart back into rhythm," Civello says.

CPR on pets is very similar to humans, she says, but the human chest is flat and an animal's is pointed, so you need to work side to side. All the other principles are similar.

"There are three things we like people to remember," says Dr. Catherine Bosco, another veterinarian at Glendale.

The ABCs of CPR, she says, refer to airway, breathing and circulation.

The first step when coming upon a pet who appears to be in trouble is to shake it to make sure it isn't in a deep sleep. Then look in the mouth and remove any foreign objects that could be blocking the airway.

If the animal doesn't appear to be breathing, place it on its right side and move to the front of the pet.

For a cat or small dog, cup your hands over its lips and breathe over its nose. For large dogs, cup your hands completely around the muzzle so air doesn't escape and then breathe over the nose.

While the animal is still on its right side, lift the knee back to the chest where it meets the third to fifth rib space. Reposition the leg and place your hand over that area. Place the other hand under the chest. For smaller pets you can cup one hand and squeeze. For all animals the chest should be compressed about 30 percent.

Large dogs require 80 to 100 compressions per minute and small pets need more, about 100 to 120 compressions per minute. You should give two breaths for every 12 chest compressions.

Something may be lodged in your pet's throat if you breath into the nose and the chest doesn't expand. At this point, the Heimlich maneuver can be applied. The animal's head should be down with its back against your chest while you give five swift squeezes over the abdomen to force the object out.

"Starting this procedure at home will give the animal an advantage" while awaiting professional medical care, Civello says. "CPR will keep circulation flowing and providing vital organs with continued blood flow."