dog heimlich

Dog Heimlich

Reviewed by Rachel Katz, VMD

Are you aware of what should be done when your dog is choking? Dog heimlich maneuver is one of the emergency procedures that should be followed when choking.

It’s crucial to know how to perform dog heimlich to save your dog’s life and not wait to reach the vet.

Dogs usually like to chew on toys, bones, socks, and sticks, which increases the risk of getting something lodged in their throat or windpipe.

Signs Your Dog is Choking

dog heimlich

First signs to look for if your dog is choking is coughing rapidly. If there’s something stuck in your dog’s throat, the dog will try to expel it by coughing.

Gasping, shortness of breath, pawing at the mouth or head, and looking scared are also signs a dog is choking.

In severe cases, the dog may lose consciousness, if no sufficient oxygen is going in.

What to Do If Your Dog is Choking

dog heimlich

If your dog is choking, it’s important to deal with him carefully, as they will be in panic. Restrain the dog to protect yourself, but do not cover their mouth.

Check your dog’s mouth immediately for any foreign objects. If they kept coughing for a few seconds and nothing was coming out, open your dog’s mouth by putting one hand on the upper jaw, and pressing on the lower jaw to keep it open.

Be extra careful, as any dog can bite. Sweep your dog’s mouth with your finger, and remove it gently with your finger.

Be very careful not to push the object further down your dog’s throat and do not attempt to pull it out if it’s not coming out easily.

Call your veterinarian or your nearest emergency clinic immediately, if you can see the object without being able to remove it.

If your dog is still choking or has fallen unconscious, you should start performing the heimlich maneuver for dogs.

In order to prevent choking, try to always keep an eye on your dog when they are playing with toys or bones that can be a choking hazard.

In addition, Feed your dog food that is prepared specifically for their size. It’s a good idea to watch your dog while they are eating too.

Heimlich Maneuver for Small Dogs

dog heimlich

Perform heimlich maneuver only if you’re certain that your dog is choking; as it may cause more injury to the internal organs.

Be extra careful when performing the heimlich maneuver on your dog, as canine ribs are more flexible than human ones. Applying too much pressure can injure the lungs.

The steps are basically the same as for a human. There is a slight variation between treating a small dog and a medium or large dog.

For small dogs, first kneel behind the dog with his back against your stomach. Then, use one hand to put pressure on the abdomen and one hand on the dog’s back to stabilize the dog.

Place your knuckle right beneath the rib cage and press firmly inwards and upwards 4-5 times in a thrusting motion.

After that, roll your dog back onto their side and check their mouth to remove the object.

Heimlich Maneuver for Large Dogs

dog heimlich

For large dogs, if the dog is standing, stand behind the dog, with his back facing your stomach. Put your arms around the dog’s waist, and make a fist, and push firmly inwards and upwards for a maximum of 5 times in a thrusting motion.

If the dog is lying down, put one hand on the back for support, and use the other hand to squeeze the abdomen inwards and upwards towards the mouth.

Check the dog’s mouth and remove any obstructing objects with your fingers.

Finally, if your dog becomes unconscious due to the blockage of the airway, call your nearest emergency clinic immediately, while doing rescue breathing and CPR.

When to See a Veterinarian

dog heimlich

If your dog is coughing rapidly or having difficulty breathing, quickly check their mouth for any obstructions to remove them. If you can’t see or remove the obstruction, call your veterinarian immediately.

Your vet may need to do a bronchoscopy, where a small camera is inserted into the windpipe to find and remove the foreign object.

Even if you were able to remove the dislodged object, it’s better to visit your vet to check for any damage that may have been caused by the object.

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