Dog Heimlich

How To Perform The Dog Heimlich Maneuver: Step-by-Step Guide For Choking Dogs

Discovering your beloved pup gasping for air is an alarm bell no pet owner wants to hear. Unfortunately, it’s a grim reality that dogs can choke on anything from small children’s toys to food or foreign objects.

Our guide comes packed with lifesaving steps tailored for both small and large canines, showing you precisely how to do the dog Heimlich maneuver to dislodge those pesky obstructions and reopen your dog’s airway.

Keep reading – it could save your pup’s life.

Key Takeaways

  • If your dog chokes, check their mouth first and try to remove the object.

  • For small dogs, use gravity by holding them upside down and giving back blows; for large dogs, perform abdominal thrusts behind or above when lying down.

  • After an incident, always take your dog to the vet, even if it seems fine, to check for internal injuries.

Recognizing the Signs of a Choking Dog

Your dog choking can scare you and them. Look for these signs that your dog is choking. Is your dog gasping or struggling to breathe? Maybe they’re making strange, loud breathing noises.

You might see them pawing at their face or mouth a lot, too.

If your dog seems frantic or panicked, it could mean their airway is blocked by something.

These signs show up fast when dogs choke on chew toys, tough snacks, small objects, or even hard candy that’s not meant for them.

Dogs don’t have hands like we do; if there’s something stuck in their throat, they’ll try to cough it out.

So if you notice coughing fits or a more aggressive chewer suddenly trying to throw up but can’t—act quickly!

Choking cuts off oxygen, and that’s very dangerous for any pet.

Step-by-Step Guide to Performing Dog Heimlich Maneuver

dog heimlich maneuver

At the heart of every pet emergency is the potential to save a life, and knowing how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on your dog could be a game-changer. We’ll walk through a clear, step-by-step guide that teaches you this vital skill—whether you’re caring for small breeds like a tiny terrier or a giant Great Dane, we’ve got the technique down so you can act fast and with confidence.

Heimlich Maneuver for Smaller Dogs

Your little dog is choking, and panic sets in. You need to act fast to clear the obstructed airway and help your dog breathe again.

  • First, look into their mouth. Gently open your dog’s mouth and see if you can spot the offending object. If you see it, try removing it with your fingers without pushing it further down.

  • Next, use gravity. With smaller dogs carefully hold it by its hind legs upside down, which might help dislodge the item.

  • Try back blows. Use the heel of your hand to give five firm yet gentle back blows between the shoulder blades.

  • Now, perform the Heimlich maneuver. Carefully lay your dog on its side and place both hands below the rib cage on the upper abdomen.

  • Push firmly inwards. Make a quick thrusting motion inwards and upwards five times to help expel the foreign object from their throat.

  • Check their mouth again. After each series of thrusts, open your dog’s mouth to check if the object has been dislodged.

  • Continue if needed. Repeat these steps until you clear the air passage or until emergency vet help arrives.

Heimlich Maneuver for Large Dogs

Now that we’ve covered small dogs let’s talk about the Heimlich maneuver for medium and large dogs. It’s a bit different due to their size. Here are the steps you need to know:

  • Stand behind your dog if they remain standing.

  • Lean your dog slightly forward.

  • Place your arms around their belly.

  • Make a fist with one hand.

  • Put your fist just below their ribcage.

  • Cover your fist with your other hand.

  • Quickly press on their abdomen with a firm, upward thrusting motion.

  • Lay them on their side on a firm surface.

  • Kneel beside them at their back.

  • Place one hand on their back for support.

  • Locate the end of the ribcage with your other hand.

  • Push firmly on the abdomen upward and forward toward the spine.

  • Perform four to five quick thrusts at a time.

  • Check between thrusts for any objects in the mouth.

  • Be ready to repeat if necessary.

  • Watch for signs of breathing difficulties afterward.

  • Take your dog to a vet even if they seem okay; internal injuries can occur.

What to Do After the Choking Incident

dog heimlich maneuver

Check your dog’s mouth after the incident. Look for any cuts, swelling, or remaining pieces of whatever they choked on. If you find anything odd or if your dog acts strangely, go to a vet right away.

Watch for signs like trouble breathing or coughing.

Keep an eye on your pet health over the next few days. Sometimes, problems from choking can show up later. Offer comfort and keep things calm for them at home.

Remember these tips to avoid another scare:

  • Protect your pup by choosing toys that match your dog’s size and strength.

  • Prevent future choking by keeping any small potential choking risk out of reach.

  • Pet parents should supervise their canine companions when they have tough chew toys and treats.

  • Cut dog food into smaller pieces to prevent choking if needed.

  • Stay alert and prepared so both you and your furry friend can breathe easy!

dog heimlich maneuver


Knowing how to do the Heimlich maneuver could save your dog’s life. Practice these steps so you’re ready in case of an emergency. Always stay calm and act quickly if your furry friend starts choking.

Remember, after any choking event, visit your vet immediately to make sure everything is okay. Keep those chew toys safe, and watch out for small objects that can cause trouble!


1. What is the Heimlich maneuver for dogs?

The Heimlich maneuver for dogs is a series of chest compressions that can help dislodge an object from your dog’s throat if they’re choking.

2. How do I know if my dog is choking?

Signs your dog might be choking include pawing at their mouth, panicked behavior, trouble breathing, and sometimes even losing their pulse.

3. Can anything in my house be a chewing hazard for my pet?

Yes, definitely! Everyday items like small toy parts or even certain dog treats can become a potential choking hazard if they are not chew-friendly.

4. What should I do before giving the Heimlich maneuver to my dog?

First off – don’t panic! Check inside your pet’s mouth and remove any object you see. If there’s something stuck deep in their throat or larynx that you cannot reach, prepare to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

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