Having dogs is like having small children, dog owners will tell you. They’re an absolute joy but require constant care and supervision. Dogs can make a mess in the house if you leave them alone for long enough. And like children, they like to chew on anything they come across.
That’s why owners are always vigilant when it comes to what their pup is gnawing on. Sometimes this can mean your dog leads you on a playful chase for a few seconds as you try to get it to let go of whatever potentially harmful object it insists on keeping from you. But sometimes things take a turn for the worst, and the object becomes lodged in your dog’s throat.
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How to tell if your dog is choking
Here are some signs your dog is choking and needs immediate aid.
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme distress
- Persistent gurgling and choking sound
- Pawing at the mouth or head
If you find your dog unconscious there is a possibility it may have choked on something and lost consciousness.
What to do if your dog is choking
After you confirm your dog is choking, you should act immediately. You should always consider a choking episode an emergency, according to the veterinarians at Jacksonville Community Pet Clinics.
Try to see if you can remove whatever is lodged in its throat with its hands. PetMD has laid out steps to do this.
- Restrain your dog so it doesn’t bite you; but do so gently as it is already panicked. Don’t use a muzzle. Open its mouth wide using both hands. Use one hand to grab the upper jaw and the other to grab the lower jaw. Make sure to press the dog’s lips between your fingers and its teeth to protect yourself in case your dog tries to bite down.
- Try to use your fingers to dislodge the object. You must be very careful not to push the item further down your dog’s throat. Pet MD recommends you try not to remove any bones lodged deep in the throat as they can be unsafe to remove without sedation by a vet.
If this doesn’t work you can try performing the Heimlich maneuver. The maneuver varies slightly depending on dog size. If you are unable to dislodge the object, you should rush the dog to your nearest vet.
How to perform Heimlich maneuver on a dog
The maneuver performed to save choking humans can also be performed on pets, with slight modifications.
If you have a small dog, lay it on its back and apply pressure on your dog’s stomach just below the rib cage
PetMD advises you not to pick up a large dog.
Instead, if your dog is in a standing position, wrap your arms around it from behind and join your hands at its belly. Make a fist and push firmly forward behind the dog’s rib cage.
If your dog is laying on its side, use one hand to press the dog’s abdomen while putting your other hand on the dog’s back for support. Squeeze the abdomen toward the spine.
This maneuver may surface the object closer to the top of the dog’s throat if not completely, in which case you can try to remove it with your hands.
If you successfully save your dog from choking, PetMDs advises taking your dog to the vet for a check-up as the object could have caused damage to the throat.
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