Pets 911: How Prepared Are You?

Pet 911: How Prepared Are You?

Many of us are well prepared for a small personal emergency or disaster. Daily emergencies such as fixing a flat tire and even choking hazards can make or break you and potentially change the rest of your life. Take a moment and recall what plans you may have in place for when someone in the room begins to choke or collapses and isn’t breathing. You typically know you should perform the Heimlich maneuver on the person choking and CPR should be performed on the person who has stopped breathing and is unresponsive. Good job! Now, lets get just a little more specific and a lot tougher: what if your pet is choking? What if your pet collapses and quits breathing? There has been a lot of positively helpful buzz about pet emergencies and how to handle them lately and I’d like to share them with you. It is important to be prepared for any situation that may arise, but I will walk you, the reader, through a few that I consider to be of high priority.


We all love to spoil our pets with bones and other treats that are perfect for getting lodged in the airway. Please remember that most treats advise you watch your pet as they enjoy the treat to prevent choking hazards. Removing small pieces that break off of larger bones is imperative and it is best that it is taken up as soon as the piece dislodges from the main treat.

If a piece has slipped by you and your pet is choking, try utilizing these helpful tips.

(NOTE: This one pertains mainly to dogs due to the fact that cats are more discriminatory in what they eat and do not experience choking as dogs do. I will still expand on cats and how to deal when they are choking.)

  1. Open your pet’s mouth, avoiding tilting the head back too far, and see if there is a visible object. If the object is visible reach in or use tweezers to remove the object, being cautious not to push it further in.

  2. Standing behind your pet with their nose pointing to the floor, lift the back legs only and invert your pet so that gravity may aid in dislodging the object.

  3. If option 2 of inverting your pet fails, next try making a fist with your hand and placing it just under the ribs with your dog standing. Compress up and in in succession 5 times in order to potentially force the objects free.

  4. If options 2 and 3 have failed, try striking with a sudden, sharp force between your pets shoulder blades. If this does not dislodge the object, return to option 2.

  5. WITH CATS ONLY: Using your hands on both sides of the chest nearly under the front legs, compress 5 times gently in attempts to free the object.


Now that we have covered choking, lets move on to resuscitation. Your pet has collapsed and you suspect he may not be breathing. Check for breath before administering CPR. If no signs of breathing, begin with these steps. It is also important to check some of the key pressure points for a pulse, such as the ankle area by the forearm. If your pet also lacks a pulse, you will need both compressions and breathing exercises to resuscitate your pet.

1) Lay your pet on a flat, sturdy surface. You want to make sure your pet is on its right side, or in the case of bulldogs or other barrel chests, you can administer compressions with the pet on their back, like a human.

2) Using the flat side of your palms, find your pet’s chest cavity, just behind the elbows near the rib cage.

3) Begin to administer compressions based on the size of your pet (refer to chart below). Remember, if your pet has a pulse, DO NOT begin compressions. It is also important to note the depth changes in the graph in correlation to your pet’s size.

4)Cover your dog’s nose with your mouth and seal the lips of your pet so that no air escapes that is meant for resuscitation. Begin breathing into your pet’s nose. If no pulse, alternate compressions and breathing exercise.

Now that we’ve covered some of the common pet emergencies, please read the charts below for more information. Something that we haven’t discussed is pet safety during other emergencies, such as natural disasters and inclement weather. As you make preparations for your family during a tornado, power outage, or flood, please remember the ones you promised to love and care for. Do not leave dogs in pens or tight to chains when waters begin to rise. Get them out with you to a safe place. Bring your horses in the sturdiest barn and pets into any tornado shelter you may have. If the weather calls for extreme cold, do not leave them outside to freeze. If it is cold enough to snow, their water bowls can freeze as well. Always consider carrying a travel dish and several water bottles and maybe even a zip-lock bag of food in your car in case you are ever stranded in your car with your pet.

To close, the big picture here is that our pets trust us and are all trying to cope with their environments. Don’t let them down. Have plans in place that accommodate your pets. Prevention is the best way to stay safe. Some sites offer decals that stick on to your window or front door saying in the event of an emergency, for example a fire, you have X number of pets inside and your number. Just be sure you have the conversation with your family on how you intend to protect the entire family, pets included.

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Blog written by: Emily Griffith