First Aid for Drowning
If the worst happens and you find your pup floating and not breathing, minutes count. Sometimes it’s not obvious the dog has drowned if you find him drifted onto the shore, so check the rims of the eyes or gums. Lack of oxygen turns these tissues blue or gray instead of the normal pink.
Before administering first aid, get your puppy out of the water but keep yourself safe. Unless water is very shallow don’t get in the water yourself. Stay calm and find a pool skimmer, rake, fishing pole, branch or other long reaching device to hook the collar and fish your baby dog out of the wet.
When the pup is small enough, you can hold him upside down by the hind legs or hips and give him a good shake to help drain water from the lungs.
If he’s too big to pick up, place him on his side with his head lower than his tail. Put the heel of your hand in the dip behind the last set of ribs, and thrust up toward his head three or four times in a modified Heimlich maneuver. Wait a couple of seconds to watch for water to come out, and repeat one more time to try and expel the water. Sometimes that’s all that’s needed to jump-start the breathing.
Water absorbs very quickly in the lungs. If nothing comes out don’t continue the maneuver. Some pets experience “dry drowning” when fear or cold temperatures make the airway into the lungs to spasm. There might not be water in the lungs but the puppy still can’t breathe.
When the heart has stopped it’s very difficult to get it going again without specialized veterinary equipment. But you can save your puppy’s life with RESCUE BREATHING--LEARN HOW BELOW.
Even when you’re able to resuscitate your pet at home, it’s a good idea to have the veterinarian examine your pet. Puppies that have been in the water especially during winter weather can develop hypothermia—body temperature below normal. They may need help to re-warm. And pups that never stopped breathing but were fished out of the lake in a near-miss also should be checked. Contaminated water that’s swallowed or inhaled can make pets sick, and water absorbed into the lungs may cause a delayed reaction.
Pets suffer brain injury and death if oxygen is cut off for only a few minutes. You won’t have time to drive to the veterinarian if your pet stops breathing. When minutes count, rescue breathing can save your pet’s life.
How To Perform Rescue Breathing
1. First check to be sure nothing blocks the puppy’s airway before you begin. Cradle small pets in your lap, but lay a large dog on the floor on his side. Straighten his neck by lifting his chin. The airway must be a straight shot into the lungs to ensure your breath is not blocked.
2. Dog muzzles won’t seal well enough for mouth-to-mouth breathing to work. Instead, hold your puppy’s mouth closed with one or both hands to seal his lips. Then place your mouth entirely over his nose. Your mouth will cover both the mouth and nose of most puppies.
3. Blow two quick breaths just hard enough to move his sides, and watch to see if his chest expands. Blowing into his nose directs air to the lungs when the lips are properly sealed. For small pets, think of blowing up a paper bag —gently does it! —or you could over-inflate and damage the lungs. However, you’ll need to blow pretty hard to expand the lungs of larger dogs.
4. Between breaths, pull your mouth away to let the air naturally escape before giving another breath. Continue rescue breathing at a rate of 15 to 20 breaths per minute until he starts breathing on his own, or you reach the veterinary clinic.
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