How to Perform Heimlich Maneuver on Your Dog – Save Him From Choking

Heimlich on your dog

If you’re a dog owner, you probably already know Fido will chew on just about anything and hard to get your dog to stop chewing on everything – food or not. Bones, toys, treats, and even his regular kibble can be a choking hazard so it’s important you know how to help him if the situation arises. Even the dog bones you think are safe can be a choking hazard for your dog.  You can perform the Heimlich maneuver on your dog to help dislodge the obstruction, and doing so quickly can save his life. In most cases, you won’t have time to get him to a vet.

First Thing’s First…

If your dog is choking, the first thing you should do is look in his mouth to see if you can see the obstruction. Be very careful when dealing with a choking dog – when they can’t breathe, they panic and can cause injury to themselves and others. If possible, have someone else help you restrain the dog.

  1. Open his mouth using both hands – one on the upper jaw and one on the lower jaw.
  2. Pull the dog’s lips back away from his teeth using your fingers and look inside.
  3. Attempt to remove the obstruction with your fingers. If you can’t grasp it, use a flat spoon handle or some other flat tool to dislodge it from the roof of the mouth or teeth.
  4. If you can’t see the obstruction or the dog is still choking, follow the next steps.

Heimlich Maneuver for Small Dogs

Because of their size, performing the traditional Heimlich maneuver on small dogs could potentially cause more damage. If a small dog is choking, pick it up by the thighs of its back legs and shake or swing it gently. If the dog is still choking, gentle forward pressure can be applied to the abdomen right behind the rib cage.

Heimlich Maneuver for Large Dogs

Never attempt to swing or shake a large dog to dislodge an obstruction in its airway. Due to its larger size, this may cause further damage. Instead, a form of the Heimlich maneuver can be administered.

  1. With the dog standing, place your arms around the dog’s abdomen and clasp your hands together. Make a fist and push forward and upward right behind the rib cage. Pay attention to your dog’s reaction. Repeat once or twice if the object does not dislodge immediately. Lay the dog on its side afterward.
  2. If they dog is unable to stand, place him on his side. Using one hand on his back for support, place the other just behind his rib cage on his belly and push up and forward.
  3. Check the mouth afterward to remove the object that was dispelled. You may have to pull the object from the dog’s throat using your index finger in a hooking motion.

Seek Veterinary Care Immediately Following the Choking Incident

Chances are, the obstruction may have caused damage to your pet’s airway. Also, depending on how long he was without oxygen, he may need to be evaluated. Always seek veterinary care following any choking incident.


Photo Credit:  Thinkstock



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