I have no idea if I really just did what I think I just did, but I think I did! I was cleaning out the refrigerator and saw a fair amount of leftover meatloaf that I couldn’t bear to throw away, so I divided it up for our three dogs. Big mistake.
I called, they came running, and in their eagerness to wolf down each cold chunk in hopes of getting more before the next dog might, Zoie, our smallest at about 35 pounds, choked. Big time. I have had dogs all of my life and have never seen a serious choke like this before in a dog.
Within seconds she began to stagger about and then fell over on her side, frantically kicking at the air with a terrified look on her face.
While I could scarcely believe what I was seeing, my first-aid training kicked in and so of course the first thing I did was ask, “Are you ok, are you ok?” Obviously she didn’t answer. She’s a dog. And besides, she WAS choking and couldn’t answer. For a split second I thought about doing a finger sweep, in hopes of dislodging whatever might be in her mouth or throat, but instinctively knew the meatloaf had to be too far down her throat for that to work.
So I jerked her to her feet, and standing behind/above her, half lifted her to her hind legs and began trying to do the Heimlich Maneuver on her. It wasn’t easy. She’s a dog, she’s small, her rib cage is longer in proportion to her body than a humans so she kept trying to fall forward, which meant I wasn’t sure I was even doing ‘the thrust’ in the right spot. But, after three serious thrusts, while the chunk of meatloaf didn’t go flying across the room like in the lifesaving Heimlich videos, it did come up enough to where she suddenly spit gagged it out!
She was no more relieved than I was, as she staggered across the floor, ears and tail down as far as nature allows, with a totally pathetic look on her bewhiskered little face. I watched her for a few minutes more, but she was obviously breathing fine now. I let the dogs out into the back yard where I hoped to get her mind off her near death experience. While she remained a bit subdued for quite some time, the sunshine and butterflies eventually reminded her that life is good.
So while I cannot swear that MY efforts saved her, she is none the less alive. I’d do it again in a heartbeat if ever the need arose. I can also tell you I will cut smaller portions in the future before I hand out left overs to my salivating trio of competing gluttons!
by Linda Spurlin – Volunteer and board member for Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary and the Stevens County Cat Care Clinic