How To Stop A Dog From Choking: In An Emergency, How Do You Help A Choking Dog?


Hopefully, you’ll never need this information, but it’s always good to be prepared.

Chewers are dogs. Dogs, on the other hand, cough a lot. And, like cats, it can be difficult to know whether they simply need to clear their throat or if something has become stuck. When should coughing be a cause for concern and an indication that your dog is choking? And when do you step in to help your dog? It’s terrifying to know your dog is choked and have no idea what to do to help.

Fortunately, choking in a dog is relatively uncommon, “said Tristan Daugherty-Leiter, DVM, a veterinarian at VCA Veterinary Emergency Service & Veterinary Specialty Center in Middleton, Wis., who specializes in emergency medicine and surgery.” “Many dogs who come in with a possible airway or esophageal obstruction end up being diagnosed with something else, like kennel cough.”

While this is welcome news for dog owners everywhere, it’s still important to know what to look for and how to help your dog if he or she chokes.

Choking Signs in a Dog

Rawhides, balls, and chew toys are the most common causes of choking in dogs, according to Daugherty-Leiter, especially if the dogs are able to bite off small pieces of these toys. So, if your dog has been doing these things and starts coughing—unlike humans, dogs’ coughing is the most telling sign of choking—intervene right away.

Aside from coughing and choking sounds, your dog may show other signs of distress, such as excessive drooling, pacing, pawing at their mouth, or rubbing their face or snout against the ground. They may vomit or gush. You might also hear squeaking or whistling at a high pitch. Your dog may have difficulty breathing if their airway is blocked, and in severe cases, they may even collapse.

What Should You Do First to Help a Choking Dog?

“Don’t panic, and if at all possible, clear the airway,” Daugherty-Leiter said, offering his best advice to pet owners.

Using your fingers, try to locate and clear the food or foreign object quickly and calmly. When reaching inside your dog’s mouth, be cautious, especially if they are distressed, as they may bite. Also, if you’re unsure, don’t force anything. If you can see what your dog is choking on but can’t get it out with your hands, the Heimlich maneuver may be an option. “You can try to perform a Heimlich maneuver if necessary,” says Daugherty-Leiter, “but a dog’s willingness to cooperate, especially under stress, can make this difficult to do effectively.” “If immediate progress is not made, I advise pet owners not to waste time. When the pet’s airway is compromised, his or her condition can quickly deteriorate. ”

Larger objects can sometimes be dislodged by applying firm pressure with both thumbs under your dog’s jaw at the base of their throat and pushing forward. Remember to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible after performing CPR or other life-saving measures.

If your dog is seriously choking, the best thing you can do is get him to a vet or a veterinary hospital as soon as possible. Your vet will determine whether your dog is choking or has a respiratory problem once you arrive. It’s possible that your dog will need to be sedated in order to remove the object. In extreme and rare cases of complete obstruction, your vet may perform a tracheotomy to let air flow around the blockage.

On Dogs, How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver

Follow these steps for a few minutes in an emergency to see if you can help your choking dog. If this is not the case, contact a veterinarian right away.

You can get your dog to lie on his side if he won’t stand and is too heavy for you to lift. Kneel behind your dog and locate their rib cage. Make a fist and place it in the soft spot of their diaphragm beneath the rib cage, then follow with the steps above.

Remember that performing the Heimlich maneuver on your dog may be difficult because they will be agitated or panicked, and you may not be able to restrain them safely. You don’t want to end up doing more damage to your dog unintentionally.

When a Dog Stops Choking, What Should You Do?

Take a few moments for everyone (humans and animals) to calm down once you’ve confirmed your dog is no longer choking. Then, and perhaps most importantly, you should reach out to your veterinarian after any type of choking incident. “As soon as possible, seek veterinary care,” Daugherty-Leiter advised. “A choking episode’s consequences can be just as bad as the episode itself.”

Your pup’s health can be assessed by your vet. When choking, a dog’s tongue or the inside of its mouth may be bit. The foreign object could also cause damage to your dog’s throat, necessitating a bronchoscopy. If they haven’t already been put on a soft food diet, they may have difficulty eating their regular dog food if they have had damage to their mouth or throat. They should also be checked for chest trauma if you performed the Heimlich maneuver on them. They may require X-rays to ensure that all swallowed objects have been removed. You should also contact your vet if your dog goes without oxygen for an extended period of time.

Your vet may send you home with pain medication after the examination, or your pup may need to spend time in the hospital to recover.

What Can You Do To Keep Your Dog From Choking?

According to Daugherty-Leiter, common sense is essential. “Playing fetch with a ball that could obstruct your dog’s airway is not a good idea.” Playing racquetball with a lab, for example, is not a good idea. This is the same reason you don’t feed whole grapes to a toddler. Owners frequently assume that a dog will “know” when to chew on something but not swallow it, but this is not always the case. “Small acts of prevention can make a big difference,” he declares.

So prepare your home (and backyard) as if you were preparing a toddler to run around and get into everything they shouldn’t. You can’t stop your dog from putting everything in his mouth, so keep an eye on him when he’s chewing on bones and chew toys. Always buy extra-tough options if you have an aggressive chewer on your hands. Don’t leave tempting (and potentially dangerous) chewing objects within their reach. Also, make sure you’re buying dog food that’s the right size for your dog, whether it’s young or old, large or small.

Giving your dog bones, especially those from cooked meats, should be avoided because they are more likely to be swallowed and can take on strange shapes once in your dog’s mouth. Other general first-aid and emergency-care efforts can be made, such as putting together a pet first-aid kit for your home. Being prepared can help you stay calm in the event that your pet’s health takes a turn for the worse.



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