RESIZED Doggie Heimlich-like Technique Photo by PawPrince Studios

It was a picture-perfect Thanksgiving in Thomasville, Pennsylvania.  A patchwork of red, orange and gold leaves blanketed the ground while a smattering of green still clung to the branches above.  The house was filled with idle chatter while all anxiously awaited the Holiday Meal.  Suddenly Brutus, a 90 lbs. Rottweiler, entered the room with an unsteady gait.  Unable to breathe and making a ghastly assortment of noises, the dog was in grave distress while the humans nearby froze in a panic.  Fortunately for Brutus, Animal Communicator Terri Steuben was on the scene and could sense the true emergency at hand.  She quickly hugged the large dog around his abdomen and gave a quick thrust.  Nothing happened, so Terri tried again, and this time a chunk of dog food literally flew out of Brutus’ mouth and across the floor.  The grateful Rottie, whose breathing returned to normal, began licking Terri’s face if to say a great big canine “thank you,” while Terri herself breathed an enormous sigh of relief. 

Accidents occur suddenly and without warning, so knowing what to do during those first few moments can truly make a difference.  In an emergency, the best thing you can do for your pet is to be prepared, stay calm and make quick decisions.  If your dog is destructive with toys, gobbles his food like Brutus or consumes everything in sight, you must maintain supervision and pet-proof your home.  Dog Grandma, Milly Urbanski of Shadow Hills, California attests that, “My human kids had to put a child-proof lock on the refrigerator to keep their yellow Labrador Retriever safe.  I was dog-sitting one morning, and the minute my daughter and her husband left for work, the mischievous pooch ran to the fridge, grabbed the bottom corner and flung the door open hoping to enjoy a buffet.”

Anything in reach and smaller than your pet’s mouth is fair game including paper clips, thumbtacks, rubber bands, buttons and staples.  To be a responsible pet parent, you must get down on all fours and look at your house and yard from your pet’s point of view.  What do you see?  Cords of all kinds (telephone, electrical, drapery and blinds) can strangle or electrocute your dog; enticing smells can lure him where he doesn’t belong and small objects on the floor can poison, choke or create blockages in your pet’s stomach.



Initially, give him a few moments to perform a cough which may expel the object, but if it does not…a careful sweep of the mouth with your fingers to dislodge the object is recommended.  Always look at what you’re doing though– don’t blindly reach into your pet’s mouth or you could push the object further down, tear throat tissue or even get bitten.  If your attempt is not successful, try one of these techniques:


1.  Doggie Heimlich-like Manuever – For large to medium-sized canines, stand behind your dog and place your arms around his waist keeping his head lower than his stomach.  Close your hands together to make a fist and place your fist just behind the last rib in the soft part of the tummy. Compress the abdomen by pulling up in a quick and rapid manner similar to the technique commonly performed on humans.  Since our pet’s ribs are more flexible than ours, sometimes this method doesn’t create enough pressure to expel the object, so you may then try…


2.  Chest Thrusts — Place your hands flat on each side of your pet’s chest and squeeze inward, pushing with your shoulders and elbows to squeeze the lungs.  After two thrusts, give the animal a moment to cough and/or look in his mouth to see if the object is now reachable.  If not, repeat.


Techniques like these are best learned in a Pet First-Aid & CPR Class where you can gain the confidence and skill to perform them properly.  Visit for a class near you.


For 16 years Denise Fleck’s Sunny-dog Ink motto has been “Helping people to help their pets,” and she has…teaching more than 12,000 pet lovers animal life-saving skills and millions more on national television segments, yet better pet parenting is still a secret in many communities.  In the Spring of 2017, in her role as Pet Safety Crusader™, Denise will journey across the Southern U.S.  to “Be the one who makes a difference” by helping large numbers of people help their pets in one concerted effort!  Pet First Aid classes, Pet Disaster Preparedness training and readings of her children’s books will be part of the fun as she travels 10,000 miles to 18 cities — from California to Florida, north to Virginia, across to Tennessee, down to Arkansas and back across the Southwest.  Super hero sponsors are needed to be the ‘wheels beneath her RV.’ Learn more about this epic adventure, Denise’s line of Pet First-Aid Kits, books and instructional posters at