The Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs: The Technique Explained

heimlich maneuver for dogs

Dogs can be playful and their curiosity pushes them at times to try new things, like swallowing tiny objects, or parts of their toys. You just never know. So as a pet owner, you must take the safety of your furry friend into serious consideration. Begin by equipping yourself with basic pet first aid skills like the Heimlich maneuver technique. 

What Exactly is the Heimlich Maneuver Technique?

The Heimlich maneuver for dogs is known as canine abdominal thrusts. It is an emergency technique used to remove any obstruction from a dog’s airway. This technique is named after Dr. Henry Heimlich, who developed the maneuver for humans but can also be applied to dogs in certain situations.

N/B: Please note that before performing the Heimlich maneuver on a dog, check to see if the dog is conscious and choking. It can cause injury if incorrectly applied or if it is performed on a dog that has lost consciousness.

In this article, we will guide you thoroughly through the steps of performing the Heimlich maneuver on your four-legged companion. After reading this article, you’ll be able to respond to choking emergencies confidently. Now for the main gist! 

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Step-by-Step Guide to Performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Dogs

Step-by-Step Guide to Performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Dogs

1. Assess The Situation

 There’s a need to display some level of calmness. Try to remain calm and composed throughout the process to reassure your dog and avoid escalating its anxiety. Our canine companions can sense our emotions so it is vital to stay as calm as possible to allow for easy cooperation. Then you can move on to accessing the gravity of the situation, for in this case, it will be a choking incident. Find out if your dog is coughing, gagging, or even pawing at its mouth. This may be a sign of an airway blockage.

2. Restrain And Position Your Dog

After finding out the cause of the blockage, gently restrain your dog by placing one hand on the back and the other underneath its abdomen. This position is important for stabilizing your dog. And it also provides you with a better grip and control during the Heimlich maneuver.

3. Locate the Diaphragm

After stabilizing your dog, try to locate the diaphragm. It is just below the ribcage. This is where you’d apply pressure to expel the obstruction.

4. Administer Abdominal Thrusts

With your hand firmly placed on the diaphragm, apply upward pressure in a quick but controlled manner. This procedure aims to create enough force that will be able to dislodge the obstruction. Repeat this process up to five times if necessary. You can allow a few seconds between each attempt for rest and recovery.

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5. Check for Successful Removal

During the Heimlich maneuver for pets, observe the reaction of your furry friend. Check to see that the blockage was successfully expelled from its airways. But if the choking continues, continue the maneuver. 

Important Considerations

a) Size and Breed Variation

 Bear in mind that the amount of force required for the maneuver differs based on the size and breed of your pet. Smaller dogs will always require a lesser force as compared to larger dogs. Large dogs will require stronger thrusts. Learn to adjust your technique accordingly.

b) Fragile or Pregnant Dogs

It’s worth the mention that when you are performing the Heimlich maneuver for pets on a fragile or pregnant dog, you should exercise caution!  Apply gentle pressure on the diaphragm to avoid causing harm to the dog or its unborn pups.

c) Professional Assistance

Every time wasted is dangerous for both you and your furry friend. If your attempts are unsuccessful during the Heimlich maneuver procedure whereby the dog loses consciousness, seek immediate assistance from a professional, or better still, take your pet to the vet hospital. Professionals have the required expertise and gear to handle critical conditions.

Some Helpful Tips

1. Prevention is Key

Start by reducing the risk of your dog experiencing a choking incident. Keep small objects or toy parts, toxic substances, and small bones out of your dog’s reach. Ensure their playtimes are always supervised as well.

2. Canine First Aid Training

Take online courses, or attend first aid seminars on pet care to gain comprehensive insights and knowledge about various emergencies. Undergoing proper training enhances your ability to respond effectively.

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Being prepared for emergencies can make all the difference when it comes to the safety and well-being of our four-legged companions.

When you acquaint yourself with the Heimlich maneuver for dogs, you equip yourself with a robust skill set to potentially save your dog’s life during a choking incident. Prioritize your dog’s safety and consider seeking professional assistance whenever necessary. With these life-saving techniques at your disposal, you can be sure to face any choking emergency that may arise.


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