Dogs, as a species, have evolved to be completely dependent upon humans. Be it food, exercise, or healthcare, pets need humans to take care of them. Humans, too, have grown to love and care for their canine friends. A medical emergency like choking in dogs can be panic-inducing to the dog owner. To help the pet, the owner must first understand on how to help a choking dog and what the canine is suffering from.
Signs of Dog Choking
Choking generally occurs when the airway gets blocked. In humans, choking usually happens when food gets stuck in the food pipe. Food, pen caps, toys, and other small items can cause choking for dogs. There are some signs of dog choking:
When dogs choke, the first indicator is usually coughing. If dog coughing and choking can’t fix the issue, it may try to take deep breaths. However, the dog’s chest will not rise and fall since the airway is blocked. It will be a clear sign that the dog is choking.
#2 Anxious Behaviour
Dogs try to use their paws to remove the item stuck in their throat. When canines cannot breathe, they also pant heavily and pace around in quick steps. This anxious behavior is a sign of choking.
#3 Discolored Gums in Dogs
When a dog cannot breathe properly, its gums might lose color. Dogs have bright pink gums normally. So, discolored gums are a sign of dog choking. When a dog chokes, this color changes to white or blueish. Gum discoloration in dogs will continue as long as it has trouble breathing.
#4 Falling Unconscious
Sometimes, your furry buddy might collapse unconscious due to a lack of oxygen. It may happen when the dog cannot get air past the object into its trachea. It is one of the more serious dog choking symptoms.
These signs help to confirm whether a puppy is choking or not. Choking can become a serious issue very quickly. That said, it is best not to panic in such a situation as that would make the dog even more anxious.
How To Help a Choking Dog?
When a dog is choking, the first objective is to calm the dog and not panic. Sometimes, the dog can dislodge the object itself. If the canine cannot dislodge, a pet owner can do a few things to release the object blocking the airways. So, let us see how to help a choking dog
#1 Remove the Object
The first thing you should do when a dog is choking is to remove the object. Dogs panic and pace around when they have trouble breathing. This pacing can worsen the situation. Thus, it is best to calm the dog and prevent them from moving too much. Then, check inside the dog’s mouth to see if the blockage can be seen. If the object can be reached, try and remove the blockage. A pair of tweezers can be used to break or retrieve the object. Using fingers to dislodge the object is not recommended. Don’t try to remove it if you think you might worsen the situation or are unsure whether you can properly remove it. If something like a string or a wire is choking them from the outside, carefully cut it with scissors.
#2 The Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs
If the object can’t be seen or removed, it is recommended to perform the Heimlich Maneuver. So, how to do the Heimlich maneuver for dogs? Surround the dog’s belly with your hands if the dog is standing. Join your hands into a single fist and push inwards and upwards from below the ribcage. The place to push is the soft hollow under the ribs. If your dog has trouble standing up, lay on its side. Place the pet’s back against your stomach. Find the soft spot under the ribcage. Form a single fist and pull up the pe’s stomach with it. Do this procedure two or three times. After this procedure, check the dog’s mouth to see if the object has been removed.
#3 Visit Emergency Dog Hospital
If the object is still stuck after the Heimlich maneuver, it is best to take it to an emergency dog hospital. A dog veterinarian has the tools to properly remove the object stuck in the dog’s mouth.
When the object is removed, the canine should be able to breathe just fine. However, it would be best to take the dog to a veterinarian anyways. A veterinarian will do a proper checkup to ensure that the object choking the dog didn’t cause any internal damage. They will also give appropriate medicine for the pet to recover properly.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Choking?
Prevention is better than cure. Choking for doggy is painful, very dangerous, and even life-threatening. That’s why it’s best to take preventive measures beforehand to keep your dog safe.
#1 Keep Small Items Away
Always ensure that objects small enough that the dog can swallow them shouldn’t be in their reach. Small pieces of a toy, pins, needles, bones, etc., that a pet might put in his mouth shouldn’t be accessible.
#2 Controlling Dog Food Intake
Dogs who eat quickly can get easily choked. Special bowls like a slow feeder dog bowl can help keep dog choking on food in check. Placing the bowl on a higher surface can also help in reducing eating speed. Dog food intake is usually designed with their size in mind. That said, dogs can still choke on this food. It is best to monitor them and ensure that the puppy eats slowly and properly.
#3 Monitoring the Dog
When dogs play with chewing toys or eating treats, the owner shouldn’t leave them alone. If the toy breaks, it becomes a choking hazard immediately. If the owner leaves his pet alone, ensure that there is nothing the canine can bite and choke on in his absence. Also, make sure that the chew toy is appropriately sized for the dog.
#4 Safety Items
A bully buddy is a good example of a safety item. This item sticks to the chew treat and doesn’t allow the dog to swallow the last few centimeters. Items such as the bully buddy stick holder help give the dog a safe way to enjoy its treat.
No preventive measure is 100% safe. Canines can still choke on toys, treats, or something else when the owner is not looking. Hence, it is best to know the proper methods how to help a dog that’s choking when they get something stuck in its throat.
Choking in dogs is a common occurrence. Most of the time, the dog will cough and dislodge the item stuck in the airway. But sometimes, the pet will need external help to breathe normally again. In cases like these, it is recommended to calm the pooch and try to remove the object. Whether the object is not dislodged or not, it is best to take the dog to the veterinarian. A veterinarian will do a proper checkup and ensure that everything is alright. While there are some ways to prevent choking, no method is full-proof. It is best to be prepared in case your dog does choke.