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National Pet Choking Prevention Day highlights ways to keep animals safe

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) – 200,000.

That’s how many pets are seen by veterinarians because of choking incidents in the United States every year according to the Atlanta Humane Society.

National Pet Choking Prevention Day, which occurs annually on June 22nd, seeks to bring awareness to choking hazards and educate pet owners on ways to keep their loved ones safe.

“It really boils down to supervision,” said Gayle Helms, executive director of The Humane Society’s Pets Fur People.

Helms’ organization is a no-kill animal shelter located in Tyler.

“There is so much plastic that’s everywhere, even just a bottlecap can cause one to choke,” Helms said. “You just have to be observant just like you would a little child to watch and make sure they don’t get things in their mouth that don’t need to be there,” she added.

The annual choking awareness initiative has its own website providing advice to pet owners. Some choking hazards for dogs include ball toys, sticks, chew toys, and food packaging. Issues can arise with cats as a result of strings, window blind cords, plastics, rubber bands and hair ties, among other household items. They also advocate giving pets appropriately sized toys.

“Toys and treats that are smaller than your pet’s windpipe or large enough to block the airway can create a choking hazard,” the website reads. “Select proper sized toys, treats and chews for your pets. For instance, the diameter of a ball should always be wider than the width of your pet’s jaw. Toys should not be able to fit completely inside your pet’s mouth. Beware of chews and toys that break apart in large chunks but don’t break down as these can all be hazardous.”

Helms also advises owners to keep an eye for poisonous plants. Her husband, Terri Cashion, who serves as operations manager, does not recommend pets be given food containing small bones, as those can pose a choking hazard.

In the event that your pet is choking, Helms recommends trying to dislodge the object from the throat. If that is not possible, the pet should immediately be taken to an emergency clinic or a veterinarian. She said pets can “choke and suffocate in a real short period of time.”

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