Dog Heimlich

icon May 7, 2024

In the delightful company of our furry friends, ensuring their safety is paramount. Dogs, being naturally curious creatures, may sometimes find themselves in precarious situations, including choking on objects. Just as the Heimlich maneuver is a lifesaving technique for humans, knowing how to perform the dog version can be invaluable for pet owners. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the importance of understanding and mastering the dog Heimlich maneuver, equipping you with the knowledge and confidence to act swiftly in emergencies.

Can You Do Heimlich On A Dog?

Yes, you can perform the Heimlich maneuver on a choking dog. It involves a combination of back blows and abdominal thrusts to dislodge obstructions from the dog's airway, potentially saving its life.

Understanding the Dog Heimlich Maneuver:

Choking in dogs can occur due to various reasons, such as swallowing objects, consuming food too quickly, or even respiratory issues. Recognizing the signs of choking is crucial for prompt intervention. Common signs include pawing at the mouth, difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, and frantic behavior.

The dog Heimlich maneuver is designed to dislodge obstructions from a dog's airway, preventing suffocation. Unlike the human Heimlich maneuver, which involves abdominal thrusts, the technique for dogs involves a combination of back blows and abdominal thrusts tailored to their anatomy.

dog Heimlich

How To Do The Heimlich On A Dog?

1. Assess the Situation:
Remain calm and evaluate the severity of the choking. If the dog can cough, breathe, or make any noise, it indicates partial obstruction. However, if the dog is silent and struggling to breathe, immediate action is required.

2. Restrain the Dog:
Approach the dog carefully, avoiding sudden movements that may escalate distress. If the dog is conscious, gently restrain it to prevent further panic.

3. Perform Back Blows:
Position the dog in a standing or lying down position. With one hand supporting the dog's chest, use the other hand to deliver five firm blows between the shoulder blades using the heel of your hand. These blows help dislodge the obstruction by creating air pressure in the lungs.

4. Perform Abdominal Thrusts:
If the obstruction persists, proceed to abdominal thrusts. For small dogs, kneel or stand behind the dog and place your hands on either side of its ribcage. Apply quick, upward thrusts towards the abdomen, aiming to compress the diaphragm and expel the obstruction. For larger dogs, you may need to lift them onto their hind legs or perform the maneuver from the side.

5. Check for Clearance:
After each set of back blows and abdominal thrusts, reassess the dog's airway. If the obstruction clears and the dog begins breathing normally, monitor its condition closely for any signs of distress or secondary complications.

6. Seek Veterinary Assistance:
Even if the obstruction is successfully cleared, it is essential to seek veterinary evaluation to ensure there are no underlying issues or injuries. Choking incidents can cause trauma to the throat or lungs, requiring professional examination and treatment.

Signs Dog Has Something Stuck in Throat

Signs that a dog may have something stuck in its throat include pawing at the mouth, excessive drooling, gagging, retching without producing vomit, difficulty breathing, wheezing or whistling sounds while breathing, anxiety or restlessness, and swallowing repeatedly. Additionally, you may observe the dog stretching its neck out and making repeated attempts to swallow. If you suspect your dog has something lodged in its throat, it's essential to act quickly to prevent suffocation or further complications. Seek immediate veterinary attention if you notice any of these signs, as prompt intervention can be lifesaving.
Related: Dog Choking

Preventing Choking Incidents:

While knowing how to perform the dog Heimlich maneuver is vital, prevention remains the best strategy for ensuring canine safety. Implement the following measures to minimize the risk of choking:

1. Supervise Meal Times:
Encourage slower eating by using puzzle feeders or interactive toys that dispense food gradually. Avoid giving large chunks of food that can easily become lodged in the throat.

2. Keep Hazardous Objects Away:
Dogs are notorious for chewing on various items, some of which pose choking hazards. Keep small toys, bones, rawhide chews, and household objects out of reach.

3. Train the "Drop It" Command:
Teach your dog to release objects on command, allowing you to intervene quickly if they pick up something dangerous.

4. Maintain a Dog-Friendly Environment:
Regularly inspect your home and yard for potential hazards, such as small toys, coins, rubber bands, or sharp objects. Keep trash bins securely closed to prevent scavenging.

5. Attend Canine First Aid Training:
Enroll in a canine first aid course to learn essential lifesaving techniques, including the dog Heimlich maneuver. Preparedness can make all the difference in emergencies.


The dog Heimlich maneuver is a valuable skill that every pet owner should possess. By understanding the signs of choking and mastering the proper technique, you can effectively respond to emergencies and potentially save your canine companion's life. Remember, swift action and calm demeanor are essential in critical situations. Prioritize prevention measures to minimize the risk of choking incidents, ensuring a safe and happy environment for your beloved furry friend.

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