Dog choking occurs when something unknown gets stuck in the back of the throat. and blocks their airway. Once the airway is partially blocked the dog may begin to back away, go back and forth and paw at its mouth.
If a dog’s airway becomes completely blocked, he may not make sounds at all. Dogs can choke on anything from plastic balls, socks, bags, toys or whatever else they can hold. And if an object goes down the wrong way, it can make them unable to breathe.
Importantly, what to do if your dog is choking can be a life-saving skill.
What is a dog choking and why?
When a dog is choking, its airway becomes obstructed. In pets, this often occurs when a piece of food, another chewable object, travels down the trachea instead of the oesophagus. Or when something gets stuck in the throat and obstructs the dog’s trachea.
Normally, when a dog swallows something it goes down the stomach and into the oesophagus. When the dog suffocates, the swallowed object travels downward, obstructing the trachea, which leads to the lungs. The dog’s trachea is for breathing and the oesophagus is for food, so if food or any other object goes down the wrong tube, the result is the suffocation of the dog.
Signs your dog may be choking
Knowing the symptoms that dogs display when dogs choke is an important first step in preventing the worst from happening. Here’s how to tell if your dog is choking:
Auditory cues: Your dog may make a loud noise, whistling or squeaking sound. These pet sounds can turn into a mild or heavy cough, followed by suffocation.
Physical signs: Examine your dog’s mouth to see if the gums or tongue are discoloured. If a puppy has something stuck in its throat that is constantly blocking its airway, it may not make noises.
Sensory Signs: Watch your dog for signs of nervous or anxious behaviour. such as gasping in the mouth, paw, pacing or trouble breathing. Any of these may indicate that your dog is in the process of choking.
First aid for dog choking
If your pet dog is unable to breathe, every second counts. Begin his first aid immediately, but don’t delay going to the emergency vet if you are unable to remove the object within a few minutes.
What is the medical treatment?
In a complete blockage, the vet may perform an emergency tracheotomy of the dog – this is a quick procedure, which allows them to pass a breathing tube from the neck directly into the trachea. This clears the blockage of the airway, allowing your pet dog to continue breathing until it is removed. When a pet’s condition worsens, the vet may not be able to resuscitate a dog that has stopped breathing.
What to do if the dog is choking and faints?
First, look inside your dog’s mouth to see if you can see the blockage that is choking the pet. If you are able to reach that obstacle, try to clear the blockage quickly, but do not force the pet if you are unsure. If unable, call your emergency vet immediately.
For dogs that have fainted, here are some tips for performing the emergency Heimlich manoeuvre—a simple, but effective technique that can be performed on suffocating pets:
Performing the Heimlich Maneuver on a Small puppy:
- Lay your dog on his back, and lift his head so that his spine is long.
- Make a fist with one hand, and place it on your dog’s belly where the sternum ends.
- Grasp the fist of your other hand, and thrust in and up in five or seven rapid movements.
What will happen to a large dog with Heimlich’s choking?
If your pet is a dog standing, place your arms around the dog’s belly, and join your hands back gently. Make a fist and push firmly forward and up, just behind the rib cage.
If your pet dog is lying on its side, place one hand on its back for support and with the other hand squeeze the stomach up and forward towards the spine four or five times. Check the dog’s blocked airway again and remove debris from its mouth. Repeat vigorously on the dog’s chest if necessary.
If your dog is unconscious, clear the blocked airway thoroughly and perform rescue breathing. Examine your dog’s mouth and remove any objects using the precautions described above.
What will happen to a suffocating dog?
The first thing the emergency vet will confirm is if your pet dog is indeed choking. They can soothe your pet dog to ease his discomfort and examine the throat and mouth, as well as any objects to remove.
What is Dog Choking Care?
Injuries to the dog’s throat and inside of the mouth can take several days to heal, and it may be painful or difficult for him to eat his regular food. It can help to soften a normal diet by running it in a blender with lukewarm water. Your emergency vet can provide pain relief to help during the recovery period.
- Be careful with chews and toys that you give to your dog.
- Make sure toys are the appropriate size for your puppy’s weight, chewing and strength of the breed.
- Never leave your pet dog alone to chew on food or toys.
- If small pieces of their chew are broken inside the mouth, they can become an immediate choking hazard.
- Will keep your pet safe and give you, lovely dog owners, peace of mind!
- Emergency veterinary visit.
If none of the techniques listed above clear your dog’s blocked airway, go to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. If possible continue to try the above techniques first. Calling the emergency vet along the way can also reduce the time it takes for your pet companion dog to receive care.
Note: The advice given by our team in this post is for informational purposes only and our advice is not medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your dogs condition, please contact your nearest ER veterinarian.