Eye-opening videos of veterinarians on Long Island saving two large dogs from choking on their toys are raising awareness of a life-saving measure.
Think Heimlich maneuver, but for dogs. The staff at West Hills Animal Hospital & Emergency Center in Huntington say owners of two unrelated dogs rushed into the center within an hour of each other. One of the dogs was choking on a tennis ball, the other was choking on a rubber ball. Both of the canines were in life-threatening conditions, the veterinarians said.
The staff members say they quickly performed what is called the external extraction technique to remove the toys and prevented the dogs from suffocating.
"Most often, panicked vets will try prying the ball out of the back of the dog’s throat with their hands or forceps instruments, which has a high rate of failure, and the dog will then require emergency tracheotomy to prevent suffocation, the center said in its Facebook post. "Sometimes, many times, it’s too late."
Get Tri-state area news and weather forecasts to your inbox. Sign up for NBC New York newsletters.
While choking is uncommon in dogs, the workers say they posted the videos on social media to show the way to possibly save lives if dog owners couldn't get them to the ER in time.
The external extraction technique involves laying the dog on its back so that the head and airway are parallel to the floor, according to experts at veterinarypartner.com. You'd then straddle the dog and find the lodged object with your fingers. Make a diamond shape with your hands and use your thumbs to push the ball down and up in a "J" shape motion while using other fingers to position the dog's jaw.
In an update post on Facebook, West Hills staff said one of the dogs made a full recovery and was already back playing fetch with his owners.
"We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the amount of support that we have received, and truly hope that this method can help save other lives the way that it was able to save Hansel," the post read.