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Many people confuse difficulty breathing with choking. Before administering any first aid, make absolutely certain your pet is actually choking. If your pet is not really choking, the Heimlich can cause serious injury.
If you witness your pet ingesting an item and then doing any of the following, only then should the Heimlich maneuver be considered.
- Pawing at the face or the throat
- Acting frantic
- Trying to cough
- Difficulty breathing
After determining that your pet is choking, remove any item that may be constricting the neck such as a collar. Examine inside the mouth and remove any foreign object you see. Do not blindly place your finger down your pet’s throat and pull any object you feel. Cats 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 you cannot easily remove the object, lift and suspend him with the head pointed 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 once or twice but if not successful on the first attempt, make immediate arrangements to 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.
The Heimlich Maneuver
Click on the video below to see the demonstration on how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a cat.
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