It’s terrifying to see a beloved pet choking, especially if you don’t know how to help them! Luckily, there are lots of resources out there to teach us. Being able to rescue a pet when he has a blocked airway puts the mind at ease.
Signs Your Dog Needs the Heimlich Maneuver
If your dog begins choking on something he swallowed, typically he will panic. So, if you see your dog acting in a frenzied way, he may be having trouble breathing. If he is pawing at his mouth, check for an object that is blocking his airway.
How to Give a Dog the Heimlich Maneuver
If you think your dog is choking, first restrain him, but never muzzle him as this may cause him to panic even more.
Position yourself to be able to see down his throat. Gently open his jaws, using one hand on the upper jaw and one on the lower. Press your dog’s lips over his teeth, so they serve as a barrier between your hands and his teeth. Use your fingers to remove what is blocking his airway. If retrieving the item is not possible, then use the flat handle of a spoon to pry it loose.
If your dog is still unconscious, or you can’t remove the object, it’s time to try the Heimlich maneuver. For a smaller dog, turn him on his back, gently, and press down right below the ribcage.
If you have a larger dog, don’t try to pick him up. If he is standing, put your arms around his belly and make a fist with your joined hands. Press up just below the ribcage, then lay him on his side.
If your large dog is lying down, place one hand on his back and one on his stomach. Then push up, while right below the ribcage.
After performing the Heimlich, check your dog’s throat again for debris. Monitor his breathing and heartbeat, and prepare to initiate CPR. If the object has not dislodged, you may need to do Heimlich thrusts repeatedly and combine with CPR.
You should take your dog to the vet to be examined and to heal. He may need to be kept and treated for a few days, and there may be damage to his throat from the choking incident.
How to Prevent a Choking Incident
Your dog may need to rest for a while, but soon he will be back in the game! And maybe, trying to chew on things that might cause him to choke.
Basically, you can help to prevent choking by keeping an eye on your dog and noting what he puts in his mouth. Avoid letting him get to toys that are waterlogged and swollen. Don’t let him chew on T-bones, which commonly cause dogs to choke. And if your dog’s food is in large pieces–if you are feeding him pieces of meat, for example–cut it up into smaller pieces. Prevention is key!