How to Give Newborn Puppies Rescue Breaths and Heart Massage

Written by cynthia gomez
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How to Give Newborn Puppies Rescue Breaths and Heart Massage
Newborn puppies may need some first aid immediately after birth. (mother dog with puppy image by Phaedra Wilkinson from

Just as in a human birth, a lot can go wrong during a canine birthing. If your dog will soon be giving birth, it's important to be prepared to take care of puppies who are not breathing. Understanding how to give newborn puppies rescue breaths and heart massage may save a life.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Suction bulb
  • Towel

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  1. 1

    Clear the airways. Hold the head of the puppy that is not breathing downward. This will allow fluid to drain from the mouth, throat and lungs. If you have a suction bulb, use it to remove fluids from the airways. While you do so, rub the puppy vigorously with a towel to stimulate breathing.

  2. 2

    Seal your mouth around the puppy's mouth and snout. Blow two or three puffs of air. Don't blow large breaths. Remember, the puppy has a tiny set of lungs.

  3. 3

    Feel the puppy's chest to see if there is a heartbeat. You can do this by simply pressing your fingers to the wall of his chest. You may also use a stethoscope, if one is available. If there is no heartbeat, you will need to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

  4. 4

    Find the area of the puppy's chest right below the back of the elbow when it's in the bent position. This is where you will need to compress. Use your thumb on its back and your forefinger on the chest to press down. Since a newborn puppy's normal heart rate can be anywhere from 120 to 180 beats per minute, you will need to compress much more quickly than you would if giving a human CPR. Aim for two to three compressions per second.

  5. 5

    Deliver another couple puffs of air every 15 to 20 seconds. Feel his chest for a heartbeat every minute. If you feel a faint, slow heartbeat, rub the puppy's body with a towel to stimulate blood circulation. You may need to deliver a couple more puffs of air. Continue to stimulate the puppy for 20 minutes or until he begins to perk up. If at this point, there is still no heartbeat, continue giving CPR and rescue breaths for about five minutes. After that point, it's unlikely that he can be saved.

Tips and warnings

  • Don't breathe too hard into a puppy when delivering rescue breaths. This can damage the lungs.
  • Continue to rub puppies until they reach a body temperature of between 36.7 and 37.8 degrees Celsius. Chilling is a leading cause of death among newborn puppies.
  • Humans can contract some diseases from the fluids of newborn puppies, such as Brucellosis, a bacterial infection that causes flu-like symptoms.

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