CHOKING, THE HEIMLICH MANEUVER, AND CPR FOR DOGS AND CATS


There's not many things more terrifying for a pet parent than to see their pet choking. I experienced it myself a few weeks ago when our senior dog, Panda, began choking. Panda showed the classic signs of choking as listed below:





• The mouth will probably be wide open with little or no air passage

• He/she may be pawing frantically at the mouth

• He/she may appear in deep distress

• He/she may be attempting to vomit

• The mucus membrane color will turn blue


If your pet is conscious, give him a chance to see if the item will dislodge with the pets own efforts. Many dogs who seem to inhale their food will do this, take the food to another location, and vomit it up in another place.

If the item is not dislodging and the pet seems in extreme distress then you will have to take it a step further. If someone is with you, and your dog is a larger breed, have that person hold the dog. If not, take the dog to a well lit area and put the pet near a wall. This helps you maintain a little more control of the body. The wall works like an assistant.


Keep in mind that the dog may be panicking like any of us would in this situation. Use your non-dominant hand on the top of the muzzle, and your dominant hand on the bottom and open the mouth. Look for the object. If you can, take your index finger on your dominant hand dislodge the object. Be careful not to push it further down the throat or to get bitten. If this doesn't dislodge the item, you will need to do a Heimlich maneuver. There are several versions of this process depending on the pets size and if the pet is conscious.


I'm going to give you several options. Don't give up until you have tried them all.


Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs and Cats:


If your dog is a large or medium size dog, conscious, and standing:


• Stand behind the dog

• Wrap your arms around the dog placing your fist on the

abdomen just below the ribs. Wrap your other hand around

that fist.

• Give one sharp, quick thrust in toward the backbone and up toward the head. If the item dislodges, then stop. If not then...

• Repeat 5 times.

• Check between each thrust to see if the item has dislodged



If your dog is a toy size dog or a cat that is conscious, and standing:


• Place your pet on a table.

• Put two knuckles on the abdomen just below the ribs and place your other hand on the back of the dog

• Give one sharp, quick thrust in toward the backbone and up toward the head. If the item dislodges, then stop. If not then....

• Repeat 5 times.

• Check between each thrust to see if the item has dislodged


If this doesn't work and the pet has become unconscious, and you can get to the vet within a couple of minutes, GO. If not have someone drive you and the dog to the vet as you try the following:


• Pick up the dog with the head facing down and the back against your chest. The reason

for this is to have gravity in your favor.

• For a small dog or cat, instead of putting your other hand on the back, put it over your

knuckles to help with the sharp, quick thrusts. Repeat thrusts.

• If the dog is too large for you to pick up, lay the dog on his/her side. Kneel near the tail

or in any position that will give you the best balance to perform the procedure. Place one hand on the back and make a fist with the other hand. Repeat thrusts.

• If the item dislodges and your pet is still unconscious, you may need to perform CPR.


Here's how.


In case you are wondering, thankfully the Heimlich saved Panda. It took several attempts but he made it. Panda, has some special needs that contributed to this incident and complicated it. I will cover that in a future article.

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