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Is Your Dog Choking? How to Perform the Heimlich

Is Your Dog Choking? How to Perform the Heimlich

Gasping, Struggling, and Panic: When Your Pup Can’t Breathe

You’re just minding your own business, snuggling on the couch with your furry best friend, when suddenly they start acting frantic, pawing at their mouth, and making those horrifying gagging sounds. Your heart drops – your dog is choking, and they need your help immediately.

As a proud dog parent, the thought of your pup struggling to breathe is the stuff of nightmares. But don’t worry, I’ve got your back. I’m going to walk you through exactly what to do if you ever find yourself in this terrifying situation, including how to properly perform the Heimlich maneuver on your canine companion.

Identifying a Choking Dog

The first step is to recognize the signs that your dog is choking. According to the experts at PetMD, some of the key symptoms include:

  • Gasping or struggling to breathe
  • Making loud, raspy breathing sounds
  • Pawing at their face or mouth
  • Acting frantic or panicked

If you notice any of these warning signs, you need to spring into action right away. Choking is an emergency situation, and time is of the essence.

Trying to Dislodge the Blockage

Before you attempt the Heimlich, you’ll want to see if you can remove the object causing the blockage with your bare hands. According to the experts at Tulare-Kings Veterinary Emergency Services, you should carefully open your dog’s mouth and try to sweep the object out with your fingers.

Just be super cautious, as a choking dog may be anxious and more likely to bite. Slowly and gently restrain them if needed. And whatever you do, don’t push the object further down their throat – that could make the situation even worse.

If the object is just out of reach, you can try using the flat side of a spoon to gently push it closer to the surface so you can grab it. But if you can’t get the object out, it’s time to move on to the Heimlich.

Performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Your Dog

Okay, it’s Heimlich time. Here’s how you do it, depending on the size of your furry friend:

For smaller dogs:
1. Lift your dog up by the hips/thighs and carefully swing them from side to side. This can help dislodge the object.
2. Perform the classic Heimlich – wrap your arms around your dog’s waist, make a fist with one hand, and thrust it upwards into their belly 5 times.
3. Check their mouth to see if the object has come loose enough to remove with your fingers.

For larger dogs:
1. If your dog is standing, perform the Heimlich by wrapping your arms around their waist and thrusting your fist upwards into their belly 5 times.
2. You can also try lifting their hind legs up in the air like a wheelbarrow to encourage the object to slide forward.
3. If your dog is lying down, place one hand on their back and use the other to squeeze their abdomen in and up.
4. Again, check their mouth to see if you can now grab the object.

Repeat this process until the object is dislodged. And remember, according to the AKC, if your dog goes unconscious, you’ll need to give a few rescue breaths before continuing the Heimlich.

After the Choking Emergency

Phew, you did it – you saved your pup’s life! But your job isn’t over yet. Even if you were able to successfully remove the object, you’ll still want to take your dog to the vet right away.

As the experts at Tulare-Kings Veterinary Emergency Services explain, the blockage could have caused serious damage to your dog’s throat or airway. Your vet may want to do an X-ray or bronchoscopy to check for any lingering issues.

And of course, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your dog at home in the aftermath. Make sure they’re breathing normally and acting their usual self. If you notice any concerning changes, get them back to the vet ASAP.

Preventing Future Choking Emergencies

The team at I Have Dogs knows how scary a choking incident can be. That’s why we recommend taking some proactive steps to help prevent these sorts of emergencies in the first place:

  • Pay attention to the size of your dog’s kibble and treats – make sure they’re not too big and prone to getting stuck
  • Keep small objects like toys and bones (even rawhide) away from your pup when they’re unsupervised
  • Choose durable, high-quality chew toys that won’t break into choking hazards
  • Always supervise your dog when they’re eating or playing with something they could potentially swallow

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say. But even if you do everything right, accidents can still happen. That’s why it’s so important to know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver and act quickly if your dog ever finds themself in a choking crisis.

Remember, your dog is counting on you to be their hero. So stay calm, follow these steps, and you just might save their life.

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