How To Perform The Heimlich Maneuver On Your Dog

Dogs chew on everything: toys, shoes, socks, bones. You name it, they’ll put it in their mouths. While chewing has a lot of physical and emotional benefits – it helps fight tooth decay, keeps dogs busy, relieves tension and stress – if left unsupervised, chewing can be very dangerous.

If your pet began choking or suddenly fell unconscious, would you know how to react? Don’t worry, many pet parents don’t. We’re here to help!

During an emergency, the first step is to breathe. It is very important to remain calm; your dog can sense your unease, which will raise stress levels and decrease the chance of a positive outcome.

The second recommended step is to quickly call an emergency vet. After talking them through the specific series of events, your veterinarian may be able to provide vital information regarding next your dog’s care.

But, of course, there are times when taking matters into your own hands may be the only way to save your pet’s life.

What to watch for:
If your dog is choking, look for signs of shortness of breath and panic. Some dogs will paw at their mouth if something is lodged in their throat, while others may cough violently, wheeze, or gasp.

If you witness any of these vital warning signs, give your dog a moment to work it out themselves. Then, proceed to immediate care and the Heimlich Maneuver.

Immediate care & The Heimlich Maneuver:
After assessing the situation and determining that your dog needs a help, immediately begin following the 9 steps outlined in TruDog’s life-saving infographic:

How To Perform The Heimlich Maneuver On Your Dog

How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on Your Dog in 9 Steps [Infographic] by the team at TruDog.

Step 1: Open your dog’s mouth and check for foreign objects. If you can, reach in and grab it with your fingers. You may also pull your dog’s tongue to attempt to dislodge the object. Use a flashlight if handy and avoid getting bit.

Step 2: If you can’t reach the object, hold your dog as shown in Step #2 of the Infographic above. Make sure your hands are under his/her ribs. Quickly push up and in 5 times in a row.

Step 3: If your dog is too big to do that, then stand over him/her (like you’re riding a horse), put your hands under the ribs and pull up and in 5 times. Check again to see if you can remove the object with your hands.

Step 4: If you still can’t get to the object then lay your dog on the ground and lift his/her hips higher than his head.

Step 5: Check again for the object.

Step 6: If you still can’t find the object, use your palm to hit your dog between his/her shoulder blades. Caution: you may need to use some force during this step.

Step 7: Open your dog’s mouth and check for the object again.

Step 8: Keep repeating steps 1 through 7 above until the foreign object comes out.

Step 9: If your dog is unconscious, you need to perform CPR. Give him/her 5 breaths and then 5 thrusts to the abdomen. Keep doing these steps until the object is out or additional help arrives.

Veterinary care:

A photo posted by Fynn & Gretta (@fynnandgretta) on

Depending on the severity, your dog may need to be immediately transported to a veterinarian following a choking incident. Lodged foreign objects can often do damage to the dog’s throat and lack of oxygen can lead to brain damage.


The best way to prevent choking is to keep an eye on your dog at all times. Avoid hazardous chew objects like sticks, large chunks of food, T-bones and rawhides.

A photo posted by Minou (@le_minou_noir) on

For a visual how-to, watch this Huffington Post video: