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Heimlich Maneuver For Dogs: What To Do If My Dog Is Choking

Because of how much dogs enjoy chewing on the things they find, they may experience an airway obstruction resulting in choking. Here, our Deer Park vets offer some information on choking in dogs and the steps to take in this situation including how to properly perform the Heimlich maneuver on dogs.

Choking Dogs & How the Heimlich Maneuver Can Help

Coughing is one of the first signs that your dog is choking. If your pup gets something stuck in their mouth or throat, they will generally start to cough in an attempt to expel the object. You might also see your dog having a hard time inhaling as a result of the obstructed airway.

Pawing at their head or mouth, and/or appearing panicked or frantic are also signs that your pooch could be choking. In a severe situation, a choking dog could go unconscious.

How to Help a Choking Dog

What to do if your dog is choking? If your dog shows any signs of choking, you need to take action immediately, you won't be able to wait.

Start by looking inside your dog's mouth to see if they have any food or foreign objects lodged in their throat or mouth. If you see something there, try to wipe it away with your finger to help your dog breathe again.

If you can see a piece of food or an object and you can't move it, take your dog to see an emergency vet as fast as possible or try performing the Heimlich maneuver as instructed below.

If there is a small bone stuck in your dog's throat do not attempt to remove it yourself. Bones can injure your dog's throat. Take your dog to the vet as quickly and safely as you can to have the bone removed while your dog is sedated.

Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs

If you can't remove the item your dog is choking on with your fingers, the next step you should take is to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Depending on the size of your dog, there are two different methods:

How to Do the Heimlich Maneuver on Smaller Dogs

Carefully hold your dog on your lap and turn them onto their back. Then using the palm of your hand apply pressure right beneath the rib cage and push firmly inwards and upwards 5 times in a thrusting motion. Roll your dog back onto their side and check their mouth for the food or object that was causing the issue.

How to Do Heimlich Maneuver on Medium & Large Dogs

If your dog is standing, put your arms around them so your hands join at the abdomen. Then make a fist with your hands and firmly and swiftly push up and forward five times in a thrusting motion - much like you would perform the maneuver on a human.

This motion should dislodge the food from where it was. But, be sure to check the mouth and help remove any food that may be loose in the back of your dog's mouth, so they don't choke or swallow what was previously bothering them.

If your dog is lying on the floor, place one hand on the dog's back and use the other hand to push or squeeze their abdomen upwards and forward towards the spine, then check your dog's mouth for the offending object.

Steps to Take Once Your Dog Is No Longer Choking

If you happen to be able to remove the object blocking your dog's airway, you should still contact your vet. If your dog has gone any length of time without oxygen your vet may recommend hospitalization.

Choking can cause painful damage to your dog's mouth and throat that might not be noticed immediately by a distressed owner. Your vet might recommend a bronchoscopy to examine your dog's throat for damage.

Ways That You Can Help Prevent Choking in Dogs

To prevent the odds of your dog choking again in the future, you need to keep an eye on your dog when they are playing with anything that may be a potential choking hazard including bones or toys.

Feeding your dog food that is formulated specifically for your dog's size can help prevent choking, particularly for small breeds. However, it's always a smart idea to keep an eye on your dog when they are eating.

If you have children in your home, ensure that toys are kept out of your pup's reach. While adorable, children's toys and playthings can cause serious harm to your dog if swallowed.

When choosing toys for your dog, remember to select a toy that is sturdy enough to withstand your dog's level of chewing. If your dog is a more aggressive chewer be sure to look for extra-tough chew toys designed to withstand the pressure without breaking into pieces that could get lodged in your dog's throat.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog choking? Contact our vets at Deer Park Animal Hospital in Deer Park immediately.

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