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How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a Dog

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Most people know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a person or child, but many with pets at home aren’t aware that this can also be performed on a choking pet as well!


How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a Dog

There are 4 steps to using the Heimlich maneuver on a dog:

  1. Head Facing downward like a wheelbarrow. Lift the dog by his rear legs to facilitate the object coming out.
  2. Sweep from side to side in the animals mouth to dislodge the object.
  3. Compress the abdomen by pushing upwards with your fist, much like the human Heimlich maneuver.
  4. If the animals head is positioned downward a sharp blow between the shoulder blades will often dislodge an object.


Be aware that while you may realize that you’re attempting to help your pet, your pet might see this as an attack on him/herself and attempt to defend themselves when they are already in distress. Remember to talk to your pet throughout the entire process in an effort to calm them with your voice. Keep your voice steady, if possible.

How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a Dog that is Unconscious or too Heavy to Lift

If the animal is TOO Heavy to Lift and is Unconscious:
1. Open their mouth and check for an object, grasp the tongue and pull it forward gently while sweeping with your finger to try to dislodge the object. (Careful, you can still get bitten).
2. If you cannot get the object lay the animal on it’s right side.
3. Kneel down (facing the dogs legs) and put your palm over your fist just behind the dogs ribs, push in and up rapidly giving 5 abdominal thrusts.
4. Check the animals mouth again, sweeping, use a penlight if possible to view the object and remove it.
5. Repeat steps three and four if necessary until the object is dislodged
6. Once the object is dislodged, give 4 breaths to the snout to get the animal breathing, (watch your face, when it comes to, it may be snappy).
7. Get the animal to the vet immediately.

How to Perform the Heimlich Manuever on a Small Dog

Performing the Heimlich on a small dog looks much like that of performing the manuever on a person. Hold the dog in a standing position with his head up, feet down and his back against your stomach. Palpate for the soft hollow area directly below the ribs and close your hand into a fist. Pull up and in two-three times with a firm, but gentle thrusting motion, toward your own stomach.

This method should only be used in dire situations that require immediate action to save a pet as it can cause damage to the chest or ribs.

Pet Heimlich Maneuver Demonstration

Pet Heimlich Maneuver

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / spyder2

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2 thoughts on “How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a Dog”

  1. This is very good information, especially if you give your dog rawhides. Because of my dog trying to inhale the last “little” piece, she has gotten a piece stuck in the very back of her throat 3 separate times, and I had to do the mouth sweep to dislodge it each time. Because of this we have stopped giving her rawhides!

    Thank you for posting!

  2. I saw this a couple weeks ago and although I read it I really didn’t think much about it. My dog was choking today on a piece of rawhide and my kids were crying and hollering and I remembered this article and was applied the technique and the rawhide came out.

    thank you for showing me how to save my dog, i am forever grateful.


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