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Do You Know How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on Your Dog?
By Amy Caldwell
Published: 09/26/2017, edited: 08/10/2021
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Did you know your dog can choke on an incredibly diverse range of things, including his own food? Do you know what to do if he does start to choke? You may not know it, but you can perform both CPR and the Heimlich maneuver on your furry friend. In fact, if you know how to do both, there is good chance you might just be able to save your pup's life, especially if you don't have time to get him to the vet or animal hospital.
How Do You Know Your Dog is Choking?
If you were sitting in a restaurant and the person next to you started to choke, you would almost instantly know what was happening and jump in to help. But, how do you know if your dog is choking? In many ways, the signs are very similar to those in a human; your pooch may start coughing and wheezing, his eyes might appear to be bulging out of his head, and believe it or not, he may start pawing at his neck.
What Do You Do Next?
If you think your dog is choking, you need to start by restraining him gently but firmly. He is already panicking, the last thing you want to do is make it worse.
Next, gently pry his mouth open using one hand on the top jaw and one on the bottom
Look down his throat to see if you can find the object
Try to sweep it out of his throat gently (bear in mind dogs have two small bones that support their tongue, do not try to forcefully remove anything you can't clearly see)
If for any reason you cannot see the object causing your pup to choke or it won't come out this way, you may have no choice but to perform the Heimlich maneuver. But, before you do this, you should try the "Tilt" method. This involves "tilting" his rear end above his front--doing this may help him to expel the foreign object on his own.
Performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Your Pooch
If neither of the above techniques works, it is time to attempt the Heimlich maneuver. Not doing so can be fatal, however, it is important to confirm that your dog is actually choking since performing the Heimlich can lead to additional injuries. At the same time, applying the right amount of pressure is very important. Applying too much can cause internal injuries.
The process of performing the Heimlich maneuver on dogs is very similar to that used on humans. The idea is to place your hands just below the rib cage and squeeze inwards and upwards to force the object out of the throat. If he is standing up, reach around his body from behind, clasp both hands together, and firmly push upwards and inwards. Lay him down on his side once you do this to help him finish expelling the object.
If he is lying down, use one hand to support his spine and the other to push his abdomen in and upwards. Once you have done this, be sure to check his mouth and throat for the foreign object and remove it if you can. If you are successful, be sure to take your pup to the vet's office to make sure there isn't any damage to his throat or insides. Once your vet gives you the all-clear, the only side effect may be that your dog has a sore throat for a few days, but all will be well in time!