Save Your Dog From Choking: Learn The Dog Heimlich Maneuver

The need to chew is built into a dog’s DNA. The instinctive need to gnaw and scrape doesn’t usually end after puppyhood. Dogs can chew to help keep their teeth clean, out of boredom, because it soothes nervousness and often as the result of receiving praise for good behavior. Sometimes though, treats like rawhide and other edible chews can wear down with use and become a choking hazard. Do you know how to tell if your dog is choking or how to help? It is important to know what to do in case of a choking emergency.


Does your dog…

  • Keep trying to cough?
  • Keep extending his neck forward, called retching?
  • Paw at his neck as if bothered by his throat?

Calmly check the dog’s mouth to see if you can pull out what he is choking on. Use caution, your dog may be unusually aggressive and bite out of fear while you have your hand in his mouth. If you can clear the airway, go for it. If the object is already too far in to remove by hand, Try lifting your dog by his hind legs and into a “wheelbarrow” position. This position takes advantage of gravity to possibly dislodge the object. Look into the airway again to see if the object is reachable. If not, you can move on to doing a version of the Heimlich Maneuver that has been modified for use on pets.


  • STEP 1 – Hold your dog in your arms as if you are hugging him from behind. If your dog is too large or heavy to be held, stand behind the dog and lean down so that your chest is lined up with his spine.
  • STEP 2 With your hands together just below his ribs, push into the dog’s torso with 5 quick movements. You can repeat this step if needed. Check the dog’s throat again if the object is still lodged. Your phone’s flashlight may help you see the throat more clearly.
  • STEP 3  – Is he still choking? Next, with the palm of your hand, try whacking your dog’s back between his shoulder blades a few times. Check the airway again.

If your dog is still choking, you can repeat all these steps until the object has cleared the airway or if your pet loses consciousness, immediately seek assistance from your veterinarian.

With some luck and the Heimlich Maneuver for dogs, you’ll be back to playing ball and going for walks with your pet in no time.

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