What To Do When a Dog is Choking

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Choking is a frightening experience, and dogs, being curious creatures, chew on everything and everything. And, like children, something occasionally goes down the wrong pipe. Here are some of the most popular choking hazards. 

You will also learn when it’s time to see a vet and what you should do if your dog is actually choking.

a bowl of dog food, a bowl of dog biscuits in the shape of bones, next to other dog treats

Common Objects Dogs Can Get Choked On

Cooked Bones: For dogs, cooked bones are incredibly harmful. Sometimes even the whole bone is too small, but also they tend to splinter into sharper pieces posing an even greater threat. Many dog owners believe that because bones have been cooked it’s better for them, which isn’t true. It’s best to just stick to chew toys and avoid cooked bones altogether.

Children’s Toys: Anyone who has kids knows how difficult it is to keep all of their toys off the floor, and our dogs are no exception. But it’s not just our poor children to be concerned about (hopefully that toy wasn’t a favorite! ); we must also remember that toys are a common source of choking in dogs.

Hard Sweets: While most of us don’t share candy with our dogs, it’s vital to be aware that hard candies might be harmful to them. It’s effortless for these to get lodged in your dog’s throat and cause choking, just like it is for small kids and sometimes adults.

Bread: Because it stretches and gathers together, bread is relatively easy to choke on. Although we are taught to chew our food, you are undoubtedly aware that our dogs prefer to swallow it whole. So keep in mind that bread can be a choking threat for our dogs.

Rocks: It may seem strange, but many of you are likely to know a dog who enjoys eating rocks. On hikes and during playtime, puppies especially enjoy swallowing them. Keep a watch out for rocks, as they are not only accessible for dogs to choke on, but they can also become caught in the intestines and cause an obstruction.

How Do You Know When A Dog Is Choking?

The first thing you will notice if your dog is choking is they will become very distressed and try to remove the obstruction with their paws. You’ll realize right away that this isn’t a case of dog sneezing or kennel cough in dogs. 

Unlike other canine health problems, bluish or cyanotic gums or tongues indicate that something restricts the airway. If your dog is choking, his instincts will kick in, and he will cough. Your dog may try to vomit to get rid of whatever obstructs his breathing. It would help if you acted quickly, the same way you would handle a person who can’t breathe because food is stuck in their throat, you should handle this very critical scenario.

Can a Dog Be Choking and Still Breathe?

Yes. If your pup is coughing, even though there may be an obstruction, they are still breathing. If you can’t get the trapped object out on your own, you’ll need the assistance of your veterinarian. 

What To Do If Your Dog is Choking 

When dogs are choking chances are they will try to resist and may even bite if they aren’t restrained. Be sure you proceed with caution and maybe even ask someone to help hold them.

If it happens to be hot when your dog is choking, try to keep them cool.

  1. Cut any object wrapped around the neck with a pair of scissors with caution, as it may cause discomfort.
  1. To see if any objects are visibly lodged in the dog’s throat, open the mouth and hold it open while pulling the tongue forward.
  1. Using a large pair of tweezers, retrieve or break any visible things.

If you can clearly see the object and it’s towards the front of their mouth, use your finger to sweep it out. 

What NOT To Do

If an object is lodged at the back of the neck, never press it with your fingers. Also, if you don’t see anything visibly, never stick your fingers down there since this may cause injury to the sensitive tissues at the back of the throat.

Never pick up a large dog that’s choking, this can do more harm than help.

Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs 

When your dog is standing, you should try to wrap your arms around his midsection under his rib cage and place one hand over your fist in the modified Heimlich for dogs. If the object does not pop out after two to five quick squeezes, use extra effort and try again. 

If your dog is lying down, turn them over on their side (for a dog under 40 pounds), place one hand on its back, the other behind the lowest rib, and push up into the abdomen with fast pressure. Repeat the process a couple of times. If you’re working with a giant dog, lie behind it, wrap your arms over its abdomen, cup your hand, and press quickly five times.

For a small dog, you can lay them on their backs and apply pressure just below their stomach around their rib cage.

So, what if first aid fails after one to two minutes? Visit the veterinarian immediately.

Should You Call Your Vet? 

You should still call and inform your vet of the situation. It’s possible they can give you more guidance relatedly directly to your dog.

Even if you’ve successfully utilized a home treatment for a bone trapped in the dog’s throat, it’s crucial to send your dog to the doctor following any form of throat obstruction. Some items cause more damage when they exit than when they enter, and any object can pose a problem. Your veterinarian can check for cuts or other damage in your dog’s throat and, if necessary, treat it.

Finally, remember that, even if this is your best buddy, a dog in distress can attack out of fear, so always be cautious. Knowing how to do first aid, the Heimlich maneuver, and CPR on your pet could save their life one day. Everyone in the house should review these critical life-saving procedures regularly.

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