Dog Health

What to Do If Your Dog Is Choking

By Arden Moore
America’s Pet Health and Safety Coach
www.petfirstaid4u.com

When a dog gets something stuck in his throat, it can block his airway and render him unconscious. Any dog of any age or size can choke on almost anything. It can happen quickly and unexpectedly.

That’s why it is important to learn how to properly perform what’s called the doggy Heimlich maneuver. It is a technique I teach in all my Pet First Aid 4U classes in person and on my Zoom interactive classes.

Step-by-Step Guide to Performing Heimlich on Dogs
How you perform the doggy Heimlich depends on the size of the dog. Remember to approach the dog in a calm manner to prevent him from becoming overly excited.

Small Dog Heimlich maneuver

Small Dog Heimlich maneuver

For small dogs with airways partially or completely blocked by an object, follow these steps:

  1. Stand and hold your dog with his back against your stomach.
  2. Hold him up with one arm around his upper abdomen.
  3. With your other hand, make a fist (tuck in your thumb).
  4. Position your closed fist at the end of ribcage in the soft spot.
  5. Thrust your fist in and upward five times in a row on the dog’s exhale to try to dislodge the object.
  6. Every five thrusts, open and inspect the mouth to see if you can dislodge any object.
  7. Be ready to perform rescue breaths if the dog becomes unconscious. Use your speaker function on your cell phone to alert the nearest veterinary clinic of your arrival as you continue the abdominal thrusts.
Medium to Large Dog Heimlich maneuver

Medium to Large Dog Heimlich maneuver

For medium to large dogs whose airways are partially or completely blocked by an object, follow these steps:

Closeup of Hand Placement for Doggy Heimlich

Closeup of Hand Placement for Doggy Heimlich

  1. Stand behind your dog if he is standing.
  2. With one hand, make a fist and tuck in your thumb.
  3. Position this closed fist at the soft spot just past the ribcage.
  4. Use your other open-palm hand to hold this fist in place.
  5. Thrust your hands up and forward (toward the dog’s mouth) five times in a row on the dog’s exhale to try to dislodge the object.
  6. Every five thrusts, open and inspect the mouth to see if you can dislodge any object.
  7. Be ready to perform rescue breaths if your dog becomes unconscious.
  8. Use your speaker function on your cell phone to alert the nearest veterinary clinic of your arrival as you continue the abdominal thrusts.

 

Caution: If your dog swallows a linear item, such as a long shoelace or a needle on a thread, stop pulling to remove it if there is any resistance. You risk injuring the dog’s trachea and body organs. Instead, you will need to perform rescue breaths and possibly, chest compressions en route to the nearest veterinary clinic. Always call ahead to let them know of this life-threatening emergency so they can be ready for you. We teach how to perform CPR in detail at our Pet First Aid 4U course.

Here is a rundown of some everyday items that a dog can swallow and cause choking and even trigger unconsciousness:

  • Avocado pits
  • Baby carrots
  • Balls (tennis, rubber)
  • Bully sticks and rawhide chews
  • Buttons
  • Dental floss
  • Food wrappers
  • Game pieces
  • Hair ties
  • Hot dogs
  • Jewelry
  • Kibble pieces
  • Refrigerator magnets
  • Rubber bands
  • Sticks
  • Sewing supplies
  • Shoelaces
  • Socks
  • Squeakers from plush toys
  • Tinsel
  • Yarn

Arden Moore is the Pet Health and Safety Coach. She is the founder of Pet First Aid 4U, the creator of the instructors’ program for Pro Pet Hero, the host of the award-winning Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio and The Four Legged Life show. Learn more at www.ardenmoore.com.

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