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Heimlich Maneuver For Dogs: Helping a Choking Dog

Dogs can start choking from simply chewing on bones or toys. In this post, our Hattiesburg and Wiggins veterinarians share ways how to help a choking dog and explain what to do if your dog is choking.

Signs Your Dog is Choking

Your dog's first sign of choking will be coughing. If your dog has something stuck in their mouth or throat, they will typically begin coughing to try and expel the object. You will also notice that your dog is having difficulties inhaling due to their obstructed airway.

What to Do if Your Dog is Choking

When your dog is choking, it is essential to take action immediately!

First, check the inside of your dog's mouth to see if you notice any food or foreign objects lodged in your dog's mouth. If you can see something, try to sweep it out with your finger.

If you try to get it out but cannot move it, take your dog to the emergency vet as quickly as possible or try performing the Heimlich maneuver.

If you can see a small bone lodged in your dog's throat do not try to remove it yourself. Bones can injure your dog's throat. Get your dog to the vet as quickly and safely as possible to have the bone removed while your dog is sedated.

Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs

Keep in mind that the Heimlich maneuver is used when pet owners aren't able to remove the object that their dog is choking on with their fingers. If you want to learn how to do the Heimlich maneuver for dogs, read the sections below.

Heimlich Maneuver For Smaller Dogs

Hold your dog by supporting them on your lap. 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 five times in a thrusting motion. Then, roll your dog back onto their side and check their mouth for the food or object that was causing the issue.

Heimlich Maneuver For Medium and Large Dogs

If your dog is standing, wrap your arms around them so your hands join at their abdomen. Then make a fist with one of your hands and use your other hand to cover the fist. Then, firmly and swiftly push up and forward five times in a thrusting motion. This is similar to how you would perform chest thrusts on a human.

After a few tries, the food should be dislodged. Be sure to check the mouth and help remove any food that may be loose in your dog's mouth so he doesn't choke or swallow what was previously bothering him. 

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. After that, check your dog's mouth for the offending object.

What to do After Your Dog has Stopped Choking

Once your dog stops choking, it is necessary to continue looking after them. Even if you have managed to remove the object from your dog's throat and stop your dog from choking it is important to contact your vet immediately. Since your dog went without oxygen, hospitalization may be recommended.

Get your dog checked out to make sure their throat is fully clear of obstructions and that your pet is healthy.

Preventing Future Choking

To prevent your dog from choking in the future, make sure to keep an eye on your dog when they are playing with anything that could be a potential choking hazard such as toys or bones.

Feeding your dog food formulated specifically for your dog's size can help prevent choking, particularly for small breeds. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to monitor your dog when they are eating.

Children's toys can pose a potential choking risk. If there are children in the household, be sure that small toys are kept out of your dog's reach. 

When choosing toys for your dog, be sure to choose 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.

If your dog has recently choked, contact our Hattiesburg and Wiggins vets. If your dog is experiencing a choking emergency, contact your local emergency vet.

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Holland Veterinary Hospitals in Hattiesburg and Wiggins are accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of all animals. Get in touch today to book an appointment with our experienced vets.

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