Identifying the Problem

If your pet is not visually breathing, place your ear on his chest and listen for a heartbeat or take his pulse. If he has stopped breathing, artificial respiration can maintain the essential supply of oxygen to the blood and body tissues. Before beginning artificial respiration, try to identify what may be causing the problem.

Many things can cause breathing difficulties for cats and dogs:

  • An air passage obstruction to the lungs by a foreign body or the animal”s own tongue, if he”s unconscious, can affect breathing.
  • Collar strangulation, electrocution, drowning, a heart attack or chest injuries can also cause breathing difficulties.
  • The ingestion of poison may stop breathing. For your own safety, do not attempt artificial respiration if you believe that poison is involved.

Beginning Artificial Respiration

If the animal has breathing difficulties, clear the airway and, if necessary, start artificial respiration:

  • Open the animal”s mouth, grasp the tongue and pull it as far forward as possible, clear from the back of its throat.
  • Wipe away any mucus or blood. Remove any obstruction.
  • Make sure that you remove the collar and any other restricting item.
  • If the animal has fluid in his throat or is a victim of drowning, hold him upside down by his rear legs for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • If the animal does not resume breathing once the airway has been cleared, begin artificial respiration. Close his mouth, place your mouth over the nose and exhale, forcing air through the nose to the lungs.
  • Watch the animal”s chest for signs his lungs are inflated. Remove your mouth, repeating the cycle about six times a minute.
  • You may need to carry on for 30 to 60 minutes, until he”s is breathing by himself or is pronounced dead.

CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)

Perform CPR if you cannot detect a heartbeat. Apply CPR in conjunction with artificial respiration. An animal that is not breathing may still have a pulse, but if the heart has stopped, breathing will not occur.

  • Place the animal on his right side on a firm surface.
  • Put the fingers of one hand on each side of the mid to upper chest area (over the heart) and compress firmly, but not too hard, then release the pressure. If the animal is large place one hand on each side of the upper chest. Compressing with too much force may cause additional injuries.
  • Repeat 80 to 100 times a minute, inflating the lungs with the artificial respiration procedure once every 10 to 15 compressions.

In most cases, artificial respiration and CPR will serve only as a means of keeping a victim alive until a medical professional can treat him. If your pet seems to be having heart or breathing difficulties, contact a veterinarian immediately.