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Animal First Aid

Animal First Aid


Before administering any first aid, make absolutely certain your pet is actually choking. Many people confuse difficulty breathing with choking. If you witness your pet ingesting an item and then immediately begin pawing at the face, the throat, acting frantic, trying to cough and having difficulty breathing, only then should the Heimlich maneuver be considered. If your pet is not really choking, the Heimlich can cause serious injury.

After determining that your pet is choking, remove any item that may be constricting the neck. Examine inside the
mouth and remove any foreign object you see. Do not blindly place your hand down your pet's throat and pull any object you feel. Dogs have small bones that support the base of their tongues. Owners probing the throat for a foreign object have mistaken these for chicken bones. Do not attempt to remove an object unless you can see and identify it.


If your pet is small and you cannot easily remove the object, lift and suspend him with the head pointed down. For larger animals, lift the rear legs so the head is tilted down. This can help dislodge an item stuck in the throat.

Another method is to administer a sharp blow with the palm of your hand between the shoulder blades. This can sometimes dislodge an object. If this does not work, a modified Heimlich maneuver can be attempted.

  Grasp the animal around the waist so that the rear is nearest to you, similar to a bear hug.

  Place a fist just behind the ribs.

  Compress the abdomen several times (usually 3-5 times) with quick pushes.

  Check the mouth to see if the foreign object has been removed.

  This maneuver can be repeated one to two times but if not successful on the first attempt, make arrangements to immediately take your pet to the nearest veterinary hospital.

Even if you are successful in removing a foreign object, veterinary examination is recommended. Internal injury could have occurred that you may not realize.


In both humans and animals, you must follow the ABCs: airway, breathing and circulation, in that order. If you suspect your pet is in distress, immediately look at his posture. Note the presence of blood, vomit or feces; his breathing pattern and other bodily sounds; and any materials, such as possible poisons, around him.

It is vital to know for sure that your pet isn't breathing or doesn't have a pulse before beginning CPR; it is dangerous to apply CPR to an animal (or a person, for that matter) if he is breathing normally and has a pulse.

Look for the chest rising and falling or place a mirror in front of his nose and watch for condensation. When checking for a pulse, remember that animals do not have a distinct carotid (neck) pulse. To determine if the heart is still beating, place your hand on the left side of the chest.

If your pet has stopped breathing, check to see if the throat and mouth are clear of foreign objects. Be careful about placing your fingers inside the mouth. An unresponsive dog may bite on instinct. If the airway is blocked, do the following:

  Lay your pet down on his side.

  Gently tilt the head slightly back to extend the neck and head, but be very careful: Do not overextend the neck in cases of neck trauma.

  Pull the tongue out of your pet's mouth.

  Carefully use your fingers to sweep for any foreign material or vomit from the mouth. Unlike CPR for humans, you can reach into the airway to remove foreign objects.

 Hold him mouth closed & breathe air through his nose

To be continued when I gather my emotions xx

  • 020_thumb
    Author vgal123 Member since Jan 14, 2011

Post Comments

    • DaisysMum
      DaisysMum     Posted on Jan 18, 2011

      Too true, Karen ..... when Daisy had her first fainting spell brought on from a coughing fit I thought she had gone.  I realised that I had absolutely no idea about small animal r resuscitation but tried as best I could to blow into her nostrils and massage her heart.  When she came to, I thought I had revived her and was so grateful for that but the vet explained that it had been a faint.  I amazed myself by not losing the plot and attending to her calmly and rationally but later, when it was all said and done, the shock set in and I was very emotional.  I think what you are doing is very courageous given what you've just been through but perhaps also cathartic and that's a good thing - I can't imagine what it must have been like for you that day - I think you are such an amazing person to have reacted the way you did - Lochie must have felt very comforted and reassured being in your care - no one could have done more for him, Karen .... you did him proud - Emmy, too.  

      Thank you again for posting this information - I, for one, am glad to have it.

      Take care for now, Vicki xx

    • vgal123
      vgal123     Posted on Jan 18, 2011

      Thanks Vicki, There is more to write but I am going through the steps of how I had tried to my Lockie & at times I find it overwhelming. Thnakyou so much for you comments. Your support to me is fantastic. All  I want to do is help other pet owners learn the basics especially in an emergency as it is all up to you in a choking or drowning accident.

      Karen xx

    • DaisysMum
      DaisysMum     Posted on Jan 17, 2011

      Dear Karen 

      Thank you for taking the time to write this up at what I know must be such a difficult time for you - it is such useful and invaluable information and I know everyone appreciates your efforts.  Well done, you. 

      Thanking you, Vicki 

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