Can You Do the Heimlich Maneuver on Dogs?

Updated On: Tuesday, December 13, 2022 12:21:09 PM America/Los_Angeles

The Heimlich maneuver is an important life-saving technique that clears airway obstructions when a dog is choking. Choking can happen a lot more easily than you think – especially with puppies who put anything and everything in their mouths. However, there are a couple of important differences between performing the Heimlich maneuver on a dog and a human. Learn how to give your dog the Heimlich maneuver below.

Photo by Kabo

Before trying the heimlich maneuver when a dog is choking, it may be quicker and more effective to simply try and see if you’re able to dislodge whatever is blocking their airways with your fingers. If you can see the object but are unable to remove it, head to the vet immediately. If you’re unable to see what is stuck in a dog’s throat but they’re showing signs of choking, call the vet and perform the heimlich maneuver on the way if possible. 

Small Dogs

Lay small dogs carefully on their side to perform the heimlich maneuver. Use one hand as support for their back and use the other hand to apply pressure to the abdomen just below the ribcage. Push in an upward motion toward the spine. Check their mouth to see if the object has been dislodged. 

Large Dogs

Performing the heimlich maneuver with a large dog is a bit more like the way you would do the maneuver with humans. If the dog is sitting, kneel behind them and wrap your arms around their abdomen by clasping your hands right below their ribcage on the underside. Press toward the spine and upward. If the dog is laying down, replicate the small dog process. Afterwards, be sure to check their mouth using hooked fingers to take out whatever was lodged in their throat. 

While no dog pawrent wants their fur baby to experience choking, practicing some of the hand placements required for the maneuver is never a bad idea. Not only does this help owners become more comfortable with the process, dogs will also be more familiar with it as well making it less likely that they’ll resist during a critical moment. Check out our post here for more info on potential choking hazards

If the choking incident was draining for your fur baby or your pooch required surgery to take out an object, they may need some extra recovery time. Choking not only affects airways, it’s also a pretty stressful situation! Using a pet potty like DoggieLawn allows your pup to handle business until they get back to feeling like their happy, healthy self again. A real grass indoor dog bathroom offers the feel of the great outdoors right inside your home.