As unfortunate as it is, dogs tend to choke very often. According to statistics, over 200,000 dogs choke every year which can cost dog owners hundred of thousand dollars in vet fees. The reason why dogs choke so often is because they are curious animals by nature. If there’s one thing they love, it is chewing on everything!
Having said that, you can decrease the likelihood of your dog suffering from a medical emergency. Knowing about the right steps to take if your dog chokes will save your dog’s life and tons of vet fees too. In this article, I’ll be talking about the signs to look out for in case you suspect that your dog is choking, ways to stop your dog from choking and how to prevent your dog from choking in the future.
Signs Your Dog is Choking
It is important to know what to expect when your dog is choking. This will allow you to know if you should perform the steps below and let you differentiate in case your dog is suffering from other health disorders.
The first sign your dog will exhibit is coughing or gagging. Depending on the severity of choking, some dogs may completely stop breathing and lose unconsciousness whereas others will make squeaking/choking sounds.
Watch your pooch’s body language closely. An anxious dog may panic, shake or whimper. Other signs of distress include retching and pawing at the mouth.
3. Physical Symptoms
Checking for physical symptoms may be helpful in case your dog isn’t making noise or has lost consciousness. To check for these, open your dog’s mouth and observe its gums for cyanosis.
Cyanosed gums are bluish in color; they indicate that the dog is not receiving enough oxygen flow. If you look further you may even be able to see the object lodged in the dog’s throat, this is a sure fire sign that your dog is indeed choking.
Steps to Take if Your Dog is Choking
Choking is a life threatening condition because it blocks the respiratory passages of the dog. If not treated in time, your fur baby might become breathless and even lose its life. For that reason a choking dog should always be rushed to an emergency vet.
Then again, not everyone lives close to a vet and sometimes you may be able to manage a situation on your own. In cases like that, it’s important to learn how to safely handle a choking dog. Here are some steps you can take to rescue your choking dog:-
1. Do Not Panic
Literally speaking, your dog is in a medical emergency. It has all the reasons to be panicking and you doing the same won’t make it any better. Do not hold down the dog’s head or muzzle it. Don’t yell or show aggression to your dog as it will result in further panic.
Too much anxiety and panic causes an already choking dog to gasp for more air which may push the object down their throat or digestive tract. Hence if you witness your dog choking, gently restrain it and try to open its mouth to look out for the blockage. Keep aware that you may get bitten when you do try this out so keep yourself safe when holding fido’s mouth apart.
2. Removing the Object
Open the mouth of the dog and see if you can see the object. Chances are that the object hasn’t gone far into the windpipe so if you see it, attempt to remove it from the dog’s throat. If the object has gone too far at the back of the throat, do not try removing it as you might push it in even farther.
Use tweezers to pull out the offending object. It may be best to have another person do this for you while you hold the dog. Purse the dog’s lips over its teeth and reach for the end of the mouth. This is crucial as at this moment the dog will likely be at the verge of panic thus the chances of getting bitten will be very high.
For larger objects like toys and balls, apply pressure under the jaw with your thumbs and push them forwards. Sometimes you will not be able to see an object in the dogs most. This might mean that your dog is suffering from some other complication which needs to be checked out from the vet.
3. Heimlich Maneuver
The Heimlich maneuver is best for helping larger dogs that are choking. Attempt this only if you are unable to remove the object manually.
For Large Dog Breeds:-
- All you have to do is wrap your arms around the belly of the dog and make a fist with your hand.
- With your other hand push the fist up and forwards behind the rib cage of the dog.
- You can also straddle your dog with your legs when attempting this process
- If your dog is lying down. Support its back with one hand and use the other to push its abdomen forwards.
For Small Dog Breeds:-
- For smaller dogs, turn over the dog, grabbing it from its thighs and shake it in a downward motion.
- If this fails attempt the heimlich maneuver by turning your pooch over, placing it in your lap and pushing its abdomen upwards right below her rib cage
- Push inwards and upwards for about 5 times and check the mouth to if the object has come upwards
4. Perform CPR
CPR may be important to help continue your dog’s breathing after choking. Performing rescue breaths may be even necessary when taking him or her to the vet. Attempt CPR by covering your pets mouth with your own and breathing out firmly.
Next, proceed by giving 30 chest compressions followed by two breaths. Check for heartbeat and breathing every 2 minutes until your pet starts breathing on its own.
5. Taking Your Dog to the Vet
If your dog doesn’t respond to any of the treatments above it is crucial that you take fido to the vet immediately. Sometimes dogs choke as a result of food or plant allergies or as a reaction to eating something toxic. In that case there is no object causing the throat to become blocked thus manual intervention is not enough to recover him or her.
A vet will perform the right tests and assess your dog to identify its cause of choking. They will then dispense pain relief medication that will also lower the irritation and swelling. Before you visit a vet it may be handy to call them and inform them of the emergency so they can help you the moment you arrive.
After Care for a Choking Dog
Not only can choking leave a dog unconscious but the object can also damage sensitive structures found at the end of the dogs windpipe. Sometimes the object may even reach the digestive tract and if your dog is allergic to it, it may cause further repercussions.
For this reason, even after you rescue your dog from choking it is important to take them to the vet. The vet will examine your pooch for any additional damage that may not be visible to the naked eye and inform you of the right actions to take.
In the future, keep an eye on your dog and keep it away from anything that may cause them to choke. This means that you should mindfully pick the dog toys for your pooch too. Make sure the toy is not too small or something that breaks off easily as a non sturdy toy may disintegrate and lodge in your dog’s throat.
Even dog food is made according to your dog’s size. The particle size of dog food is chosen in accordance to dog breed. Bigger dogs have food sizes that may cause smaller dogs to choke so if you have two dogs at home (one bigger and one smaller) consider separating their food bowl to prevent mix up.
Lastly, put away anything that may pose a choking hazard. This includes bones, children’s toys, and small objects like marbles or key chains. Keep your trash cans covered to prevent pooch from fumbling around.
The Bottom Line
A choking dog counts as a medical emergency therefore it must be dealt with proper care and that too in due time. Recognizing the signs of a choking dog and knowing what to do will help you be well prepared in case of a dire emergency.
To rescue a choking dog, you can manually look for the object and remove it. You can also try procedures like CPR or Heimlich maneuvers to resuscitate your pooch. If all else fails, you can always take your dog to the vet.
Vets are trained professionals so you can trust them to provide your dog with proper means of care. A vet will also inform you in case your dog has complications like allergies and they will also better inform you of the ways you can prevent pooch from choking in the future.