Can dogs choke? Yes, dogs can choke. Our four-legged friends explore the world through their mouths. Their boundless curiosity may lead them to chew on just about anything that catches their attention. If they accidentally swallow a foreign object and it goes down the wrong pipe, dog choking is likely imminent.
We will talk about spotting the early signs of dog choking and the first aid techniques you can use to save your furry pal from danger. But before that, let us discuss which dogs are more at risk of choking.
Types of Dogs More Susceptible to Choking
Dog choking can occur in any canine, but some pooches are more likely to experience it than others. Watch out if your canine companion has a habit of inhaling his meals. Eating too quickly can cause food to get lodged in his throat, leading him to choke.
Some dogs with obsessive-compulsive and anxiety disorders cannot help but gnaw excessively on their chew toys, which can break into pieces and cause choking. Dogs that love to catch and fetch rubber balls might unintentionally get their toys stuck in their mouth or throat.
What are the Dangers of Dog Choking?
“Do I need to worry about my dog choking?” is a commonly asked question by pet owners. Yes, it is a cause for concern if your dog is choking. His oxygen transport to the brain and circulatory system will get cut off, making breathing difficult. It can be terrifying for your dog, and he might panic or become aggressive.
Now you might be wondering: “Can dogs die from choking?” Unfortunately, dog choking can result in death due to suffocation if immediate action is not taken. For this reason, it should be considered an emergency by pet owners.
Signs of Dog Choking to Look Out For
What are the signs of choking in dogs? Below are the noticeable indications that dogs are choking:
- Breathing difficulties
- Choking sounds (e.g., gagging or retching)
- Pawing at their mouth or face
- Bluish gums
- Loss of consciousness
In relation to this topic, let us answer the question: “Can choking cause a seizure in dogs?” Oxygen deficiency caused by dog choking can potentially result in seizures. Furthermore, failing to quickly remove the item obstructing the airway and performing first aid can lead to fatal consequences.
First Aid for Choking Dogs
Numerous concerned pawrents are interested in knowing what to do if a dog is choking. The first thing to do is to avoid panicking. Witnessing your dog choking on food or a foreign object is a distressing emergency but try to keep a clear head. It will help you carry out first aid properly and prevent your dog’s condition from worsening.
Here are the next steps you can take if your pooch is choking:
Step 1: Restrain your pooch.
You are choking causes breathing difficulties, which can send your dog into a panic. Get someone to hold your pet down gently on his side to keep him from bolting away. Do not muzzle him, however, as it will make him struggle to breathe even more.
Step 2: Carefully open your dog’s mouth.
Use one hand to hold your pet’s upper jaw and then grab his lower jaw using your other hand. To prevent him from biting down on your hand, press his lips between your fingers and his teeth.
Step 3: Remove the foreign object lodged in your dog’s throat.
Using a flashlight, check your dog’s mouth. Once you see the item lodged in his mouth, cautiously remove it with your hands.
Be careful not to stick your fingers excessively down his throat, as it can damage the surrounding nerves. You also run the risk of pushing the object down further into his airway. Another way to dislodge and take it out is using tongs or long tweezers.
In some cases, foreign objects, especially large ones, can be dislodged without the need to reach into your pet’s throat. All you need to do is to place both thumbs underneath his jaw and apply firm pressure while pushing your fingers forward.
Removing bones lodged in dogs’ throats by yourself is not recommended as it can cause injuries. Leave this one to the vet since your dog will be sedated to safely extract the bone.
Step 4: Perform the Heimlich maneuver if you cannot remove the object.
There are two ways to execute the Heimlich maneuver on dogs, depending on the size of your canine companion.
Dog Heimlich Maneuver for Small Pooches
- Gently lay your small dog choking on your lap and turn him onto his back.
- Locate the soft spot on his abdomen, which is just right below his rib cage.
- Press the heel of your hand on the area. Then apply pressure while pushing inwards and upwards.
- Repeat this thrusting motion with your hands five more times.
Dog Heimlich Maneuver for Large Pooches
- Standing position
- Put your arms around your dog’s back and guide him to stand on both of his hind legs.
- Look for the soft spot on the abdomen found underneath the ribcage.
- Close your hands into fists and thrust them inwards and upwards five times.
- Lying down position
- Make your dog lie on his side and kneel behind his back.
- Ball your hand into a fist and place it under the soft spot beneath the rib cage.
- Firmly push your hand upward and inward towards your dog’s spine. Repeat five times.
After performing the Heimlich maneuver for dogs, roll your pet on his side and check if the item in his throat was successfully dislodged. If your efforts were unsuccessful, take your dog to the vet as soon as you can.
Step 5: Perform CPR if your dog stops breathing.
CPR involves doing chest compressions that will help resuscitate your unconscious dog. This should only be carried out if he has fainted and his airway is clear.
Do not perform CPR on a dog choking but still breathing because it can cause physical complications. There is also the danger that he might try to bite you.
If your dog remains unconscious, it’s time to send your dog to the vet. Continue giving CPR while on the way to the clinic to keep oxygen flowing and blood circulating in his body.
Step 6: Contact your vet to schedule a check-up.
If dog choking was successfully resolved at home, it is still imperative to get him checked by the vet. They will assess if your pet has sustained any injuries during his choking episode.
The vet might require your furry friend to have a bronchoscopy and an x-ray. These tests help examine his throat for damage and ensure that the swallowed object was properly removed.
Choking in dogs can make eating regular dog food a difficult task. Hence, the vet might recommend switching your furry pal temporarily to a soft food diet. In some instances, pain relievers might also be prescribed.
Why Do Some Dogs Choke on Nothing?
Many dog owners ask: “Why does my dog keep coughing and gagging like he’s choking?” Although coughing and gagging are common signs of dog choking, they could be symptoms of other canine conditions. Respiratory issues such as kennel cough can lead pooches to produce dog choking sounds.
Life-threatening anaphylactic shock due to allergies can restrict a dog’s breathing, making him choke for air. Another possible cause is reverse sneezing, which occurs when something irritates his airway.
If dog choking occurs but no obstruction is found, chances are he might be suffering from an underlying medical condition. Thus, it is advised to bring him to the vet for a check-up.
How To Prevent Dog Choking
Here are some ways to lessen the danger of your dog choking on food or foreign objects:
- Choose a dog food specifically made for your dog’s size. This is particularly important for small canines since they have narrower throats. Eating big chunks of food can easily cause them to choke.
- Give your canine friend dog toys durable enough to withstand his gnawing and chewing. More importantly, pick one that is not small in size to keep him from accidentally swallowing it.
- Consider using a slow feeder instead of a regular food bowl. It prevents your pooch from quickly gobbling down his meals, reducing the chances of his food going down the wrong way.
- Dog choking can happen despite the precautionary measures you have taken. So, it is crucial to supervise your pet during his mealtimes and playtime. It allows you to immediately come to his aid if he chokes on something.