Dogs are known for exploring their world through the act of chewing. While this may not be an issue if they are chewing on dog-safe objects, occasionally a dog may chew on a dangerous object and begin choking. Here, our Tracy emergency vets talk about the steps to take in an emergency situation where your dog is choking.
How to Tell That Your Dog is Choking
One of the first signs that your dog is choking is likely to be coughing. If your dog has something stuck in their mouth or throat, they will typically begin coughing in order to try and expel the object. You may also notice that your dog is having difficulties inhaling due to the obstructed airway.
Pawing at their mouth or head, and/or appearing panicked or frantic are also signs that your dog may be choking. In severe cases, a choking dog may become unconscious. If this occurs you should bring your dog to see emergency vets in Tracy as quickly as possible.
What you need to do if you notice that your dog is choking
If you notice any signs that your dog is choking, it is essential to take action immediately and not to wait until you get to the vet!
Begin by checking the inside of your dog's mouth to see if any food or foreign objects are lodged in your dog's mouth or throat. If there you can see something, try to wipe it away with your finger to help your dog breathe again.
If you can see an object or a piece of food but you are unable to move it, get your dog to the emergency vet as quickly as possible or try performing the Heimlich maneuver as instructed below.
If you can see a small bone lodged in your dog's throat do not try to remove it yourself. Bones can cause injury to your dog's throat. Get your dog to see emergency vets in Tracy as quickly and safely as possible in order to have the bone removed while your dog is sedated.
How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs
If you aren't able to remove the object that your dog is choking on with your fingers and once you have contacted emergency vets in Tracy, the Heimlich maneuver is your next step. Depending on the size of your dog, there are two different methods:
Performing the Heimlich maneuver on smaller dogs
Carefully hold your dog on your lap and turn them onto their back, then using the palm of your hand apply pressure right beneath the rib cage and push firmly inwards and upwards 5 times in a thrusting motion. Roll your dog back onto their side and check their mouth for the food or object that was causing the issue.
Performing the Heimlich maneuver on medium and large dogs
If your dog is standing, put your arms around them so your hands join at the abdomen. Then make a fist with your hands and firmly and swiftly push up and forward five times in a thrusting motion - much like you would perform the maneuver on a human.
Doing this should dislodge the food, but be sure to check the mouth and help remove any food that may be loose in the back of your dog's mouth so he doesn't choke or swallow what was previously bothering him.
If your dog is laying on the floor, place one hand on the dog's back and use the other hand to push or squeeze their abdomen upwards and forwards towards the spine, then check your dog's mouth for the offending object.
Steps to Take After Your Dog is No Longer Choking
Even if you have managed to remove the object from your dog's throat and stop your dog from choking it is important to contact your vet immediately. If your dog went without oxygen for any length of time hospitalization may be recommended.
Choking can cause painful damage to your dog's mouth and throat that may not be immediately visible to a distressed owner. The emergency vets in Tracy may recommend a bronchoscopy to check your dog's throat for damage.
How You Can Help Prevent Your Dog From Choking
To prevent chances of your dog choking in the future, make sure to keep an eye on your dog when they are playing with anything that could be a potential choking hazard such as toys or bones.
Feeding your dog a food that is formulated specifically for your dog's size can help to prevent choking, particularly for small breeds. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to monitor your dog when they are eating.
If there are children in the household, be sure that toys are kept out of your dog's reach. Children's toys can pose a potential choking risk.
When choosing toys for your dog, be sure to choose a toy that is sturdy enough to withstand your dog's level of chewing. If your dog is a more aggressive chewer be sure to look for extra-tough chew toys designed to withstand the pressure without breaking into pieces that could get lodged in your dog's throat.