If you were to walk into a room and find your pet choking, would you know what to do? While it’s scary to think about, learning how to perform the Heimlich maneuver for pets is one of the best things you can do to help keep your pet safe.  Green Dog Dental has put together some instructions so you can prepare.

 The exact method will vary depending on the size and condition of your pet:

If you have a small pet or if they are unable to stand on their own

  1. Place your pet on his side on a hard surface, such as the floor or a table.
  2. Place both hands just behind the last rib and press down quickly and firmly. Regulate the force that you use depending on how large your pet is. Release immediately and repeat rapidly several times. Try to direct the force of your hands slightly forward – this will help to push the foreign object out of your pet’s throat.
  3. Periodically open your pet’s mouth and attempt to retrieve the foreign object as emerges from their throat. Sometimes they may be able to cough it out on their own, but some assistance is sometimes needed.

If your pet is large and able to stand:

  1. Straddle your pet, placing them in between your knees.
  2. Keep your pets mouth open  (careful not to get bitten- this is easier with more than one person, but since these kinds of incidents happen suddenly, you may need to do it alone).
  3. Place both hands under your pet, right below the last rib, and lift with quick forward and upward thrusts. Regulate the amount of pressure you use depending on your pet’s size. Do this several times and continue until the airway is clear.

Once the crisis has passed, and even if your pet seems to be fine and is breathing normally, BRING THEM TO THE VET. The Heimlich maneuver is a form of first aid, not a substitute for proper veterinary care. You’ll want to make sure your dog or cat is actually doing ok, and that they haven’t sustained any injuries thanks to the Heimlich (it’s possible to accidentally bruise or even break a rib).