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Choking-Heimlich Maneuver
by Marie
Choking-Heimlich Maneuver Baxter & Rudy get treats at bedtime every night. They love it and are programmed for it. Last night as I was getting ready for bed, I had put Rudy (4 mos old - 3 lbs) in his crate by the bed and he was eating his treat (Iams puppy milkbone) when I noticed him gagging/choking. There was no air coming out. Upon first instinct I screamed for my husband while grabbing him. The Heimlich maneuver was the first thing that came to my mind, but he is so little and fragile and I haven't received training in how to administer it to a dog. All I could do is jam my finger down his throat and try to dislodge it. (I could feel the lump on the OUTSIDE of his little throat.) He was still choking so my husband tried and he succeeded in pushing it down. Rudy was fine - in fact, he pretty much acted like nothing happened. NOW, I have questions and I would appreciate suggestions, passing thoughts, opinions and anything else you all have to offer. 1. I know I'm going to be so worried about giving him a treat I'll hardly be able to stand it, but should I do it anyway? 2. Did we do the right thing in jamming it down? (We couldn't bring it up - it was too far gone.) 3. Could we have pushed it into his lungs or were we probably past that point? 4. This is probably ridiculous, but do dogs learn from such incidents as this? To end on an amusing note, I didn't even realize it, but I was standing there cradling him and loving him after the ordeal passed and my husband said "what a picture". I had come through the whole incident stark naked and didn't even realize it!!!


Hello Marie ! I once had a one of mine swallow a piece of rawhide and gasp/choke for air, I did the Heimlich and luckily it was expelled. I don't know if she learned from the experience, I dont' think she ever chews on one anymore ! A friend of mine had one choke to death on " Popcorn ", and another on birdseed she did not know what " the heimlich" maneuver is !??? oh well... WHen you do the Heimlich on a small dog like the maltese, you need to stand the dog upwright & put your thumb heel up against the end of the ribcage and press quickly but not too hard, repeat if nothing comes up ! I know the nakedness thing.....had a few... good luck

After reading your question about the Heimlich maneuver for dogs, please please get Paulette Cooper's book, 277 Secrets Your Dog Wants You to Know. It is chock full of useful information, and covers Heimlich Maneuver for dogs. I'm a first time dog owner and it's the first book I read. Please buy her book so she can write the sequel! This book is available on the web site Amazon.com if you cannot find it in the bookstores.
Marie- At the end of my 14 year old yorkie's life, she choked on a daily basis, and my poor father had to heimlich her every morning, which is why I put her down. Then when I got my new maltese pup- she was about the same age as yours and even smaller- she choked on a treat in bed as well. I freaked out- but then I calmly did a finger swap down her throat and when i couldn't feel the cookie I pressed just under her rib cage as they teach you to do on an infant in CPR- I don't know if this is the correct way to save a clk=hoking dog- but when you are in such a panic you do what first comes to mind. Anyways, she is now 10 months old and she has been fine ever since- thank goodness! Just keep an eye on him while he eats his treats -just in case it should ever happen again. He should be just fine!
Marie, I recently went to a pet fair, they did a deomstration on the Heimlich for dogs and cats. Remember our dogs are small so use your head when applying pressure. This is the hand out they gave:

Heimlich Maneuver type 1

1. Lay the animal on its side.
2. Put one hand on its spine and the other hand on its belly.
3. With the hand on belly , push inward and upward with quick short motions.
4.look in mouth for object and remove.

Heimlich Maneuver Type 2

1. Lift the animal off the ground and hold it vertically( head up and spine againest your chest.)
2. With arms around belly push inward and upward with quick short motions.
3. Check mouth for object and remove.

Heimlich Maneuver type 3

1. Kneel behind the standing animal.
2. Place hands under belly just below the rib cage.
3. Push inward and upward with quick, short motions.
4. check mouth and remove any object.

Remember you have about 4 minutes to do this. Hope it is never necessary but if it is you've got it now.
Mary P.

Mary P.-Thanks big bunches! I've already printed it out and it's in my doggie notebook! You could have saved many little lives.
Mary P, thanks so much for the valuable information. I feel I was lucky this time. Rudy is doing great and so far I'm cutting up his treats in little chunks. I talked to the breeder and she suggested "people crackers" that you can get at Walmart. They would get soft if caught in the wrong place. I'm picking some up this weekend. Hope he likes them & thanks again...
That must have been an absolutely horrible experience! I'm so glad it worked out OK, but I wouldn't suggest trying to push something like that down in the future. Yes, you could have accidentally pushed further into the airway depending on where it was lodged.. but thankfully your husbands instincts proved to be right. As for the Heimlich, Mary P.'s answer describes what we learned in school pretty well. It really is similar to what you would do for an infant. I just wanted to suggest to everyone to consider getting a good book on animal first aid. I only have textbooks from school that are a bit technical and cover much more than dogs, so I can't really suggest one that I have personally read. However, another friend told me about that Paulette Cooper book too, and said it had a lot of great stuff in it.
Marie: I'm sorry to hear that you had such a frightening experience. I am an EMT and would like to address the response you received from "Renee" on 1/26/98. NEVER place your hands or fist on anyones ribcage (dog, human, etc.) to attempt the heimlich maneuver! The force of your thrusts on the ribcage can snap the patient's sternum and cause terrible internal injury. If you follow the instructions that Mary P. has given you (see above), you are on the right track! Good luck.

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