How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a Cat or Small Dog

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Learning to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a cat or small dog is a helpful skill for emergencies. Perform the Heimlich maneuver on a small pet with tips from a veterinarian in this free video on pet care.

Part of the Video Series: Cat Health Care Tips
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Video Transcript

Let's talk about the Heimlich maneuver in dogs and cats. The Heimlich maneuver we think about in people all the time, getting choked on a piece of food at a restaurant and something like that. In veterinary medicine it is not something that we use routinely, however, it does come to play in the home setting on rare occasions. Dogs and cats can get choked on items, can get choked on pieces of food and things like that. The first thing you need to do is recognize are they actually choking on something or are they trying to gag or vomit. The way you know is typically if an animal is choking on something they are going to be opening their mouths, they're going to be retching over, they're going to be pawing at their face. So it is very difficult and you can get injured if you look in the mouth but that is the first thing to do is if you can look in there, look at the tongue and gum color and make sure it is nice and pink and not blue. If we do think that there is absolutely a choking mechanism happening that there is something lodged in the back of the throat then we might pull out the Heimlich maneuver and the way you do that is basically is take your hands and ball them up and or one method is to ball one fist up with your palm over the other one, right below, or actually right in the upper abdomen and below the sternum and then use a quick just kind of gentle but firm upper motion to try to dislodge that. The next recommendation is to get your animal to a veterinary clinic as quickly as possible. It may not always be a choking situation or it may be something that you can't do on your own.

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