Learning The Heimlich Maneuver For Dogs Could Save Your Best Friend's Life

What a good boy. Javier Brosch/Shutterstock

The Heimlich maneuver has saved a countless number of lives, including Ronald Reagan, Elizabeth Taylor, and – most importantly – Cher. 

However, a lot of people don't know that there’s also a separate technique to use on dogs if they have an object stuck in their windpipe.

One Twitter user recently shared an easy guide (pictured below) showing the Heim-lick maneuver for dogs after her beloved pooch started choking on some plastic. Fortunately, the dog was “back to being annoying” fairly shortly after the incident, but she shared the guide in the hopes of circulating some life-saving knowledge. 

Dogs will chew on practically anything, whether it's a bone or your favorite socks, so it's very easy for small objects to become jammed in their trachea. The tell-tale sign that a dog is choking is that it is pawing its mouth or showing signs of breathing difficulties. They can often panic if they begin to suffocate. In the worst case scenario, they can even fall unresponsive or unconscious.

So, if you notice any of these signs, try these four steps:

  • Assess the situation: Check their mouth and throat by placing your finger in their mouth and sweeping it from side to side.
  • Give them a “sharp blow” to the shoulder blades.
  • Hold up their hind legs as high as you can and tilt them down like a wheelbarrow.
  • Compress the abdomen by pushing up with your fist.

Failing that, call your vet immediately.

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If you don’t know the human Heimlich maneuver, you really should learn it. This fool-proof method was first described in 1974 by US surgeon Dr Henry Heimlich.

First, if you notice someone is choking on an object in their trachea, try giving up to five firm blows between their shoulder blades with the palm of your hand. If the object remains lodged, stand behind the person and wrap your arms around their waist. Place your clenched fist just above the person’s navel. Grab your fist with your other hand. Quickly pull inward and upward, a bit like you’re trying to lift the person up. Perform this type of abdominal thrust a total of five times.

You never know, it could save a life. 

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