Has your dog ever choked? This is not normal; it is a medical emergency that needs instant medical intervention. Dogs choke when something foreign gets stuck in their throat or wrapped around their neck. If not dealt with properly, choking can be life-threatening. Rush to the nearest veterinary hospital if you can. If not, carry out instant first aid to help the dog get relief from choking.
Dog owners are not used to when dogs’ breath obstructs or constantly gags. If you also have no idea, why does my dog choke? Keep reading the post to help you figure out the reason behind choking. We will also guide you through the instant response to help you save your furry friend’s life.
Reasons My Dog Choke
Choking is scary for pet parents, and unfortunately, it happens often. Therefore, you must know the typical reason behind dog choking to give your dog the help it needs. And maybe prevent choking from happening altogether.
Dogs are curious by nature, so they explore everything around them by sniffing and chewing. The problem arises when they swallow the object without chewing it, and it gets stuck, causing choking. Common choking hazards are bones, balls, sticks, rawhides, and chewing toys.
Anything smaller than the windpipe will be considered a choking hazard. Keep an eye on your dog when trying to chew any of the above items. Let them chew rawhide and bones under your supervision. Take these items away when their size gets smaller.
Choking can also happen because of certain infectious diseases, such as tracheobronchitis, also known as Kennel Cough. It is a highly contagious disease whose signs are pretty similar to choking. Dogs having this infection cough like something is stuck in their throat.
Another infectious disease is puppy strangles, which causes choking symptoms in dogs. This disease results in swelling of the throat and lymph nodes, thus causing flu-like symptoms. The causative agent of this infection is not known, but it usually affects young dogs.
Choking can also happen because of the highly tight collars. Collars get tight when dogs try to pull the leash. Sometimes it happens because the puppy has outgrown the size of the collar. So make sure to keep a two-finger gap when you put a collar on the dog’s neck.
This will ensure the dog doesn’t choke if it tries to pull the leash. Also, keep updating the collar size with time because puppies are fast-growing. Use the collar that fits your dog perfectly.
Small dogs often choke because of collapsing tracheas. The trachea is the part of the windpipe that links the mouth to the lungs. Some dogs have floppy trachea, collapsing when they try too hard to suck in the air. The harder they try, the more severely the trachea collapses.
There is no proven treatment for collapsing trachea, but here are a few tips that are helpful to minimize the effects. Keep your dog’s weight under control, give cough medicine, and check the dog breed before buying.
Dogs can also experience choking because of asthma. It results in trouble breathing because of constricted airways. The most common reasons behind canine asthma are cigarette smoke, pollen, cleaning products, and pollen. Take your dog to the vet if you spot asthma in your dog.
What Are The Signs of Choking?
The first and primary sign of choking is coughing. Dogs also experience obstructed breathing. In partial blockage, the dog will retch, display anxious back and forth movement, and paw at the mouth. The dog is trying to alert you about the problem. If the airway is completely blocked, the dog can’t make any sound.
Here are the symptoms that your dog might display while choking.
- Blue mucous membranes
- Rubbing face against the ground
How To Render First Aid To A Choking Dog
Choking is an emergency that you shouldn’t take lightly. Take immediate action if your dog is choking. First, check if any foreign object in the dog’s mouth obstructs the throat. After spotting the object, try to remove it using your finger so the dog can breathe.
If you cannot see the object besides seeing it, quickly take the dog to the veterinarian for treatment. If you think you aren’t near any vet hospital, try doing a Heimlich manoeuvre to help save your dog.
How Does Heimlich Maneuver Help Save Choking Dogs
If you cannot remove the obstructed object using a finger, your next option should be Heimlich Maneuver. This method is performed differently for larger and smaller dogs.
For smaller dogs
Hold the dog carefully in your lap and turn it to the back. Apply pressure below the rib cage using your hand palm. Keep pushing gently in an up and down motion in the head direction five times. This will help to force air out, thus expelling the object. Now roll back the dog to the side and check the object causing trouble.
For larger dogs
For larger dogs, please put your hands around them and keep their head up so that you are holding their back against your abdomen. Now spot the soft part under the rib cage and push it up and forward five times by making a fist. This will help dislodge the blocking object.
How To Prevent Future Choking
To prevent choking from often happening, keep an eye on the dog while it is chewing on objects that can be choking hazards such as bones, sticks, etc. If choking is from an infectious disease, give your dog antibiotics and cough medicines to relieve the symptoms.
Use food for your dog that is appropriate according to its size, especially for smaller breeds. There are chances that smaller dogs can choke on larger dogs’ food. So it is a good idea to supervise the dog while eating. And if you spot anything unusual, take your dog to the vet or give first aid. And for that, you must know what to do if your dog is choking.
FAQs: What To Do If Your Dog Is Choking
How can I tell if my dog is choking and not just coughing?
A choking dog will show signs of severe distress like frantic pawing at the face, drooling, gagging without sound, and a panicked appearance. Coughing usually has sound and isn’t accompanied by the same level of distress.
Should I try to remove the obstruction with my hands?
Only if you can clearly see and easily reach the object without causing further harm or pushing it deeper. Be extremely cautious, as a choking dog may accidentally bite in panic.
What is the Heimlich maneuver for dogs, and how do I perform it?
The Heimlich maneuver for dogs involves placing pressure on the abdomen just below the rib cage to expel an object stuck in the throat. The exact method varies depending on the size and breed of the dog, so it’s best to learn the technique from a vet or professional trainer before an emergency occurs.
How do I perform rescue breathing on a dog?
After ensuring the airway is clear, hold the dog’s mouth closed, place your mouth over its nose, and exhale until you see the chest expand. Give one breath every three to five seconds.
Can all breeds of dogs receive the Heimlich maneuver?
Yes, but the technique will vary. For example, with large breeds, you might need to perform the maneuver with the dog standing, while smaller breeds can be lifted and held against your body.
After a choking incident, when should I take my dog to the vet?
Always take your dog to the vet after a choking incident, even if you successfully remove the object and the dog seems fine. There could be internal injuries or remaining obstructions.
How can I prevent my dog from choking?
Prevent choking by supervising your dog with toys and chews, keeping small objects out of reach, and using appropriately sized toys that can’t be swallowed whole.
Are there dog first-aid courses I can take to prepare for emergencies like choking?
Yes, there are many pet first-aid courses offered by organizations such as the Red Cross, as well as many local animal shelters and vet clinics.
What emergency supplies should I have on hand in case my dog starts choking?
Keep a pet first-aid kit, which includes gloves, tweezers, a syringe without a needle for flushing out mouths, and the phone number for your vet and the nearest emergency animal hospital.
Can I practice the Heimlich maneuver on my dog when they’re not choking?
It’s not recommended to practice the Heimlich maneuver on a healthy, non-choking dog, as it can cause injury. Instead, learn the technique from a professional and use a stuffed animal to practice.
Knowing what to do if your dog is choking can be a life-saving skill. Every pet owner should familiarize themselves with the signs of choking, learn the appropriate emergency responses, and be prepared to act quickly and calmly. Remember to follow up with a visit to the vet, regardless of how well your dog seems to recover. Taking proactive measures, such as attending pet first-aid courses and keeping hazardous objects out of reach, can significantly reduce the risks. Above all, keeping your dog safe is about being informed, prepared, and ready to provide the necessary care when it counts.