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- To stop your dog from choking, check what’s blocking his breathing and try to dislodge the item. If you cannot, do the Heimlich maneuver. Position yourself at the back of your dog while he is standing and grab his belly with one hand forming a fist and the other wrapped over it. Push both hands upward and forward.
- According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) the signs a dog is choking are gagging, difficulty breathing, pacing, drooling, excessive pawing at the mouth and a blue-tinged tongue.
- To prevent future choking, always supervise a dog when he is chewing on a toy or bone.
It’s your worst nightmare: You toss Fido a treat, which he gulps down whole and starts gagging. You pat his back, but he continues to choke. What do you do? If you don’t know how to help a choking dog, you could be putting his life at risk! In this guide, I will teach you the basics of choking first aid for dogs, the signs, and how to prevent future choking.
Sign and Symptoms : Choking dogs
Choking obstruction: Choking occurs when a dog can’t breathe because a foreign object or constriction is preventing air from reaching his lungs through his throat. Choking sounds are a giveaway, but if you’re not sure, feel for any objects in the mouth or throat. If you can see the object, try to remove it with your fingers. While gagging is the most obvious sign, be aware of other choking symptoms such as difficulty breathing, pacing, drooling, excessive pawing at the mouth and a blue-tinged tongue, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
If your dog is choking, you should rush him to your vet or emergency clinic. The AVMA and petplace recommend you also do the following. A panicking, choking dog is more likely to bite, so use caution. If you are able to identify the source of the obstruction, take steps to remove it before you start giving first aid.
Help! My Dog Choking! Steps to Save a Life: Pet’s condition
- Remove your dog’s collar, harness, bandana or anything that might be constricting his throat area.
- Look into your dog’s mouth to see if the object is visible. If can see it, try to gently remove it with tweezers or pliers, but be very careful not to push it farther down your dog’s throat.
- If your dog is small, lift him and, securely holding him, suspend him with his head pointed down and his hind end up. For a larger dog, lift his rear legs so his head is tilted down below his shoulders. This may help dislodge the object.
- If you can’t remove the object or if your dog loses consciousness, perform a canine version of the Heimlich maneuver. Put both your hands on the side of your dog’s rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure, or lay your dog on his side and firmly strike his rib cage with the palm of your hand three to four times. This will push air out of his lungs and hopefully push the object out from behind. Repeat this until the object is dislodged.
- Potential choking hazard for dogs can include small objects like toys, bones, or rawhide chews. If your dog has a chewing problem, virtually anything they can take a bite out of and accidentally swallow can make them choke. If you see your dog trying to gag or cough something up, it’s important to take action right away. Even if you successfully dislodge the object, have your dog checked by your vet as soon as possible to make sure he has no internal injuries. According to experts, in addition to mouth injuries, choking can also lead to “fluid entering the lungs, pneumonia and other chronic respiratory conditions.”
This video demonstrates how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a small dog:
As anyone who has a dog surely knows, dogs will try to eat almost anything. To prevent your dog from choking, take the following precautions.
Preventing Future Choking
- Never give your dog real bones, especially chicken and turkey bones, because they easily tear and can get stuck in your dog’s throat or intestinal tract. Keep trash cans away from your dog in secure places so he can’t rummage through them and find discarded bones.
- Nylon and marrow are good choices for dog bones. Rawhide and green dental bones are not recommended. According to professorshouse.com, one of rawhide’s “multitude of hazards” is that when it’s chewed, its gooey, stringy material can get lodged in a dog’s throat. The more a dog drinks or salivates to try to dislodge the rawhide, the more it swells, which makes it even worse.
- Throw away any bones or chew toys that your dog has chewed down to a size that he could swallow.
- Always supervise your dog when he’s gnawing on a bone or chew toy.
- Make sure your dog’s bones and toys are appropriate for his size. For example, if you have a large dog like a Saint Bernard, don’t play fetch with a racquetball.
- Keep small objects out of your dog’s reach.
Like the Boy Scout motto says, be prepared. The next time you visit your vet, ask her to demonstrate the best way to perform the Heimlich maneuver on your dog. You can also take a pet first-aid class, which may be offered by your local adult school, pet store (Petco has an online class) or Red Cross chapter.
What happens if your dog chokes and you don’t know what to do?
If your dog is choking and you cannot dislodge the object on your own, it’s time to call the veterinary hospital or emergency services. The emergency vet will be able to help remove the obstruction quickly and safely. Your veterinarian may provide pain relief to assist your dog during the healing process. Remember that time is of the essence when dealing with a choking dog—any delay could mean life or death. Stay calm and act fast to save your furry friend.
What do you do if your dog is choking?
If your dog is choking, first check what’s blocking his mouth or throat then try to dislodge the item. If you cannot take it out, do the Heimlich maneuver.
Why is my dog gagging like something is stuck in his throat?
If he is not chocking, the gagging could be a sign of either an infectious problem, such as Kennel cough, or laryngeal paralysis.
Will rubbing a dog’s throat help with choking?
Rubbing a dog’s throat could only help you determine if he is actually choking, and not really to stop it.
Should I give my dog water if he’s choking?
Only give water in small amounts after, as a way to soothe his throat from choking. During the incident, however, it is better to perform the Heimlich maneuver if you cannot dislodge the item he is choking on. If nothing works, take him to the vet immediately.