• Open Access

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation in Small Animal Medicine: An Update


Corresponding author: Dr Signe Plunkett, Emergency Animal Clinic, PLC, 2260 W. Glendale Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85021; e-mail: signedvm@cox.net.


In December 2005, the American Heart Association published new guidelines for cardiopulmonary cerebral resuscitation (CPCR) in humans for the 1st time in 5 years. Many of the recommendations are based on research conducted in animal species and may be applicable to small animal veterinary patients. One important change that may impact how CPCR is performed in veterinary medicine is the recommendation to avoid administration of excessive ventilatory rates because this maneuver severely decreases myocardial and cerebral perfusion, decreasing the chance of survival. The new guidelines also emphasize the importance of providing well-executed, continuous, uninterrupted chest compressions. Interruption of chest compressions should be avoided and, if necessary, should be minimized to <10 seconds. During defibrillation, immediate resumption of chest compressions for 2 minutes after a single shock, before reassessment of the rhythm by ECG, is recommended. This recommendation replaces previous recommendations for the delivery of 3 defibrillatory shocks in rapid succession. Allowing permissive hypothermia postresuscitation has been found to be beneficial and may increase success rate. Medications utilized in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, including amiodarone, atropine, epinephrine, lidocaine, and vasopressin, along with the indications, effects, routes of administration, and dosages, are discussed. The application of the new guidelines to veterinary medicine as well as a review of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in small animals is provided.