We hope that no one reading this article ever needs to use this maneuver on their dog, but we wanted to be sure that all dog owners are prepared to save their dog’s life should he choke on something. All dogs pick up things in their mouths, such as sticks, balls, bones, and even rocks. Should the unthinkable happen and your dog suddenly begin choking on something, there are some things you can do to help. The symptoms of choking are not always obvious at first, especially if you don’t see your dog eat or swallow something.
Symptoms of Choking:
- Bulging eyes
- Running around in circles
- Acting frantic, disoriented or wild
- Pawing at his mouth
- Constantly coughing forcefully
- Gasping for air or wheezing
- Attempting to vomit
- In obvious discomfort
- Blue or white lips or gums
Steps to take to perform the Heimlich maneuver:
- Open your dog’s mouth and look for the object and remove it if you can easily get hold of it.
- Place your thumb on one side of the upper jaw and the rest of your hand on the opposite side of the upper jaw to hold it in place.
- Push down on the lower jaw with your other hand keeping your index finger free to sweep the back of the mouth.
- Remove the object if you can see it.
- If you cannot remove the object and your dog is small enough to hold upside down, turn him upside down with his face away from your body and placing your arms around his lower abdomen and gently sway him for 30 seconds.
- If that maneuver didn’t work, place him on a hard surface on his side with his head down and hindquarters up. A rolled towel or small pillow placed under his hindquarters will help to keep his hindquarters in the elevated position if you have time to get one or have someone with you that can get it for you.
- Small dogs: Placing one hand on the dogs back and the other under the center of his rib cage press in, thrusting upward, four or five times in a row. Repeat this thrusting maneuver 2-5 times or until the dog stops choking.
- Large dogs: If you cannot place your dog on his side then kneel or stand behind him, and place both hands at the bottom of the dog’s ribcage and press in firmly, thrusting upwards four or five times.
- Repeat this thrusting maneuver 2-5 times or until the dog stops choking. If your dog is still choking or lost consciousness while choking, immediately seek emergency veterinary help.