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March 2024

What to Do If Your Dog is Choking

Friday, May 5, 2023
posted by Jim Murphy

A couple of 4 month old puppies enjoy a treat of raw hide bones scattered on the floor.

What to Do if You Notice Your Dog Choking

You may think it will never happen to your furry friend, but choking in dogs is more common than you think. In fact, over 200,000 dogs choke every year in the United States! With that said, it’s essential to know what to do if you notice your pup choking!

Signs That Your Dog is Choking

The first way you can help your dog if they have food or an object lodged in their throat is to know the signs of choking. There are three main signs that you need to be aware of.

The first and most obvious sign is an auditory sign. These can take the form of high pitched sounds or squeaking noises your pup makes when they are having trouble breathing. Auditory signs also include heavy coughing or gagging.

The second sign is a physical sign, like the discoloring of their tongue or gum from the lack of oxygen that can occur when their airways become blocked.

Lastly, there are sensory signs. This is an anxious behavior that takes place when your pup can’t breathe. For example, they might become anxious, paw at their mouth, start panting, or start pacing.

Immediate First Aid for a Choking Dog

There are two things you can immediately do if you notice your furry friend choking. You can open their mouth to look inside. If you see an object that is stuck, you might be able to remove it with large tweezers. Make sure there’s another person to keep your dog’s mouth open while you use the tweezers to pull it out. It’s important to note that you should never try to push the lodged object down your puppy’s throat, as that can make the situation worse.

If the first option fails, you need to give your four legged friend a “dog version” of the Heimlich Maneuver. For small dogs, pick them up by their thighs and shake them gently a few times in a downward motion.

On the other hand, if your large dog is choking and standing, you should put your arms around their stomach. Then make a fist with one hand, and with your other hand on top push firmly up and down right behind their ribs.

If your large down is lying on the ground, place one hand on their back for support, while you use the other to squeeze their abdomen upward and forward.

If the piece of food or object does not come out when you give your dog immediate first aid, call your emergency veterinarian as soon as possible! If your pup becomes unconscious or isn’t breathing, you should perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on your dog.

After Care for Your Dog

Even if the object stuck in your pup’s throat becomes dislodged, you should still immediately bring them to the veterinarian to check for any harm to the throat. Similarly, their ribs or organs might have been damaged if you performed the Heimlich Maneuver.

Bringing your pet to the veterinarian when they are choking or after they coughed up an object is a necessary step to ensuring your pup is healthy in the long-run. Luckily, pet insurance can help ease this difficult and stressful situation. Pet insurance will help to cover unexpected, life-threatening accidents like choking or ingested foreign objects. Learning more about how to use pet insurance can also save you a lot of money, allowing you to spend more on comforting your pup when they are back home!

You should keep an eye on your furry friend when they return home from the vet, so you can make sure they are breathing fine. Sometimes dogs can experience effects from choking that can take a few weeks to fully heal, so you will not want to leave them unattended for a long period of time following their accident.

Remember, pets are vital family members and should be treated as such. Make sure you are well prepared to care for them if they choke on food or any other object!

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