How to Help a Puppy to Breathe in an Emergency

Puppies are small and delicate and require careful handling.
Puppies are small and delicate and require careful handling. (Image: Life On White/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Puppies are small and delicate pets. They are easily injured and become harmed by minor problems. When the puppy is not breathing properly, problems occur. There are two basic reasons that a puppy cannot breathe: something is stuck in its throat or it is newborn and has not yet taken a first breath. In both situations, the puppy can die if it does not get oxygen quickly. In any emergency situation, call the vet. In the case of new puppies, have the vet on call in case there are complications beforehand so the vet can react quickly or give further instructions according to the situation.

Newborn Puppy Breathing

Support the puppy’s head in a hand, positioning the head so your thumb is on one side and your forefinger is on the other side. Hold the puppy gently, but have a firm hold to avoid accidentally dropping it.

Turn the puppy downward in a swinging motion to make the puppy gasp. Only hold the puppy like this for a few seconds before putting the puppy straight again. If the puppy has liquid in its lungs from the birth, this will help drain the liquid. Repeat the process if necessary.

Gently wipe the puppy’s face and stomach with a damp, soft cloth. This will simulate a mother dog licking the puppy and stimulates the puppy to breathe.

Look at the puppy’s tongue. If the tongue is pink or red, the puppy is breathing and getting enough oxygen. If it is blue, repeat the swinging motion until the puppy starts breathing.

Puppy Heimlich

Come up behind the puppy and place your hands gently around its waist. Be careful, because too much pressure can break bones and hurt the puppy. One hand should be behind the ribs.

Press the abdomen quickly three to four times. Check the puppy’s breathing. If something comes out of the throat, stop the procedure. If nothing comes out and the puppy seems to still have trouble breathing, repeat the action for three or four more presses. Repeat until the puppy can breathe. Sometimes, the puppy will swallow the item lodged in its throat rather than spit out, so watch for breathing.

Take the puppy to the vet immediately after it can breathe and have the vet look over the puppy.

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