Doggie CPR – It Can Save a Life

Dusha was saved by a quick-thinking owner and timely CPR.


Kelly Mattiuz, of Arizona, had a medical background and while she knew human CPR, she also wanted to know what to do in a doggie emergency. So she took a canine CPR class – and she made her husband, David, go with her. As it turned out, that made all the difference to her borzoi, Dusha.


It happened when Kelly was away. Her husband took the dogs for a walk and then let them out to romp a bit in the back yard. Unknowingly, he removed Dusha’s safety collar, not her martingale. It was one of those things, one of those little mistakes that happen from time-to-time without ramifications.


But not this time. This time, Infinity, a 9-month-old borzoi, got her mouth stuck on the martingale and in a panic dragged the first borzoi around trying to get free. It was as if a noose was tightened around Dusha’s neck.


While David was quick to respond, it’s not easy to separate two large dogs, panicked and stuck together. He managed to cut off the martingale, but it appeared to be too late. Dusha fell dead on the ground – no pulse, no heartbeat, no breathing.


David knelt down and with the help of a friend began to do cardio-pulmonary resuscitation – CPR. A friend gave four quick breaths and David gave 15 chest compressions. This continued for several minutes until the friend felt Dusha inhale.


They drove her immediately to the emergency vet. At first, it seemed as if she’d permanently lost her sight due to the loss of oxygen, but Dusha’s sight did return. And today she is just fine.


“It is very scary to think a simple collar mistake caused this and could have caused her death,” said Kelly, who is a SHUG volunteer.


Having experience with human CPR helps in a dog emergency, but is not necessary. To start CPR on your pup, here are the first steps:



• Put the dog on its side and check inside its mouth to make sure there is nothing blocking the airway


• Lift the dog’s chin, which opens his throat


• Close the dog’s mouth gently with one hand while blowing into the dog’s nose. You should see the dog’s chest rise and fall with your breaths.



Chest compressions should also be done at a rate of slightly more than one per second. The technique is different depending on the size of the dog. Breaths should be given once for every five compressions.


Details can be found here. And a video can be found here. For more information, consult with your vet.


“I was told by our vets that this happens very often and even with a safety quick release collar,” said Kelly. “Most do not make it due to a panicked owner and lack of knowledge of canine CPR especially the chest compressions and their importance.”



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  1. And don’t forget to learn the doggie Heimlich maneuver. They can choke on a ball or similar item. Iggies and other small sighthounds can easily choke on a hot dog slice or, in the case of my Susie, a slice of the round apple core made by an apple corer. She inhaled the apple bit instead of chewing it, and I could immediately tell by her expression that it was blocking her throat. All is well with Susie, but you just never know when your crazy dog is going to need a life saving maneuver.