Vet Saves Choking Dog Using Technique Everyone Should Know

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If your beloved pet began to choke, would you know what to do? There is a life-saving maneuver that all dog owners should know, but it’s not the Heimlich. Thankfully, a veterinarian was captured on video saving a choking German shepherd using the technique, and it’s footage that needs to be seen by every dog owner so they know what to do in an emergency.

Margaret Hunt
Dr. Margaret Hunt (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

Dr. Margaret Hunt was on duty at a South Carolina veterinary clinic when a 5-year-old German shepherd named Clyde was rushed in by his owners, who had learned the hard way that toys aren’t always a dog’s best friend. Balls, chews, and other toys can present a choking hazard, which was the case for Clyde, who had begun choking on a rubber Kong toy.

Clyde’s humans rushed him to the veterinary clinic after he began choking, and luckily, they made it in the nick of time. As soon as Dr. Hunt encountered the choking canine, she knew what she had to do. There was a maneuver that, done correctly, could dislodge the toy from Clyde’s throat, but it wasn’t the Heimlich.

Dr. Margaret Hunt rushes to help Clyde as the German shepherd chokes on a Kong toy. (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

The technique is called XXT, which stands for external extraction technique, and Dr. Hunt knew it was Clyde’s best chance of surviving. Wasting no time, Dr. Hunt climbed on top of the choking animal so that she could effectively employ the technique. Although it’s not the Heimlich, it has the same goal — clearing the airway of the obstruction — and it worked!

“We all kind of rejoiced,” Dr. Hunt said, recalling the moment the Kong toy popped out of the dog’s mouth immediately after she performed the XXT technique. “We were all pretty excited about it,” she added, and they had every reason to be. The technique used by Dr. Hunt undoubtedly saved Clyde’s life, and the harrowing moment was captured on camera.

As Inside Edition explained, the Heimlich maneuver, as well as removing an item with  forceps, performing a finger sweep, or giving rescue breathing, can save a life when a dog is choking in some instances, but according to the Veterinary Information Network, Inc, the XXT technique “is indicated for full airway obstruction” caused by “a ball or similar object in an unconscious patient.”

To properly perform the maneuver, the dog must be placed on its back. With the animal’s back braced against the floor, the rescuer then straddles the dog, adjusting their position based on the dog’s size. With the dog’s head positioned in line and the airway parallel to the floor, the rescuer must identify important landmarks, including the dog’s trachea, the location of the obstructing object, and the dog’s mandible. The trachea is the airway or ringed tube that can be felt in the throat, while the mandible is the V-shaped jawbone.

After these landmarks are identified, as well as the location of the obstruction in the animal’s throat, the rescuer should make an open diamond shape with their hands, placing the thumbs on either side of the trachea below the ball or object. Then, gripping the “V” of the jaw while using the lips and cheeks to protect the fingers, “Push with a J-stroke down and out against the ball until it ejects from the mouth,” Veterinary Information Network writes, explaining how to effectively perform the life-saving maneuver.

“The toy just popped right on out,” Dr. Hunt recalled, describing the moment she used the XXT technique to save Clyde’s life. “It worked really well, and so, we’re all really pleased about that,” she added. However, after the maneuver is deployed, the rescuer’s work isn’t quite done. After the obstruction is dislodged, provide two rescue breaths, the Veterinary Information Network instructs owners, adding that if the dog doesn’t respond, CPR should be started.

Margaret Hunt
After Dr. Margaret Hunt effectively performed the XXT technique on the choking German shepherd (right), a Kong toy (left) was dislodged from his throat. (Photo Credit: Composite created by TapHaps from Screenshots)

Of course, this information, as noted by the Veterinary Information Network, is for general purposes only and does not substitute advice from one’s own veterinarian. While the XXT technique is a safer, more effective treatment and intervention for choking pets, which is performed by vets across the country, it’s no substitution for adequate safety precautions that can help prevent choking altogether. As such, evaluate the size and shape of toys and balls before offering them to your beloved pet.

In addition, balls and Kongs should be checked for damage and cracks, and even then, supervision is still recommended when your pet is playing with toys. With estimates saying that over 200,000 dogs choke every year, these safety precautions are important — as is knowing the XXT technique just in case an emergency arises and a vet isn’t nearby. So, make sure your dog-loving friends see this technique in action and know what to do. It could save a life.