Unfortunately, when an animal is suffering, he or she can’t tell you when something is wrong. However, if you are aware of your animal’s activities you’ll be able to tell when something isn’t right.
When a dog starts choking, you’ll notice he or she starts coughing and may not be able to breath. Follow these 10 steps to make sure you keep your dog safe.
1. Call your Vet
If your pet is in serious distress, your first line of defense should always be to call your vet. He or she can help talk you through the process or will recommend you bring your pet in immediately. If your vet isn’t available, a veterinary specialty hospital will be able to help your dog immediately.
2. Ask for Help
If there is someone nearby and you can’t get to your vet’s office quick enough, ask for help in restraining your pet. This will help both of you make sure to stay safe and calm.
3. Check inside the Mouth
You might be able to physically see what is blocking your pet’s throat, and if possible may even be able to remove it. Carefully open your dog’s mouth and use a flashlight to see if it is in reach. You’ll likely need an extra pair of hands to help.
4. Try Inducing Swallowing
Carefully lift your pet’s head and rub his or her throat to help stimulate items to pass through the throat. If your pet doesn’t seem in immediate danger, even simply offering a treat can help promote swallowing.
5. Remove the Object
If you can see what is blocking the throat, you can use a pair of tweezers to help carefully remove the object. However, be aware of your dog’s state of mind, because if he or she is in stress this may end up with one of you injured.
6. Gravity is your Friend
Sometimes when small children are choking the best thing to do is hold them up by their legs to help the object pop out because of gravity. The same goes for dogs; smaller dogs can be lifted in the air, and you can help larger dogs by lifting their hind legs off the ground.
7. Pat the Back
Sometimes several quick but controlled blows to your dog’s back can be the quickest way to help them dispel lodged objects, but be sure you are not striking sensitive areas or using too much force.
8. Stay Calm
Choking can be a frightening experience, and your dog won’t be able to tell you how scared he or she is. Make sure to reassure your pet to help keep him or her calm, which will help muscles relax and may help facilitate breathing.
9. Use the Heimlich Maneuver
This is rarely recommended when it comes to helping choking dogs, but if nothing else is working for a distressed animal it can be an option. As with a person, you’ll want to put pressure right below the ribcage, but you’ll have to be careful not to push too hard, or you may break your dog’s ribs or damage their organs.
10. Take your Dog to the Vet
Even if you removed the blocking object and your pet seems better, schedule a visit with your vet to make sure there are no other complications.