Choking is a medical emergency that can occur when a dog’s airway becomes blocked, hindering its ability to breathe. This condition can result in severe damage to the dog’s brain and even death if left untreated. As a responsible dog owner, it’s essential to recognize the signs of choking in dogs and act promptly to alleviate the blockage. In this article, we will discuss the signs, causes, prevention, and first aid for choking in dogs.
Signs of Choking in Dogs
The signs of choking in dogs may vary depending on the severity of the blockage. Some common signs of choking include:
The dog may have difficulty breathing, and you may hear a wheezing or rattling sound when they inhale or exhale.
The dog may try to vomit or cough up the obstruction, but nothing comes out.
The dog may make choking sounds or retch repeatedly, which may indicate that they are trying to clear its throat.
Pawing at the mouth
The dog may paw at their mouth or throat, trying to dislodge the object.
Bluetongue and gums
The dog’s tongue and gums may turn blue due to the lack of oxygen.
If the blockage is not resolved, the dog may eventually lose consciousness.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial to act quickly to prevent the dog from suffering any further harm.
Causes of Choking in Dogs
Several factors can cause choking in dogs. These include:
Eating too fast
Dogs that eat too fast are more likely to choke on their food. When a dog eats too fast, they swallow large chunks of food without chewing it properly, which can lead to choking.
Dogs can accidentally ingest objects that are too big or that get stuck in their throat. This can include bones, toys, sticks, and other items that are not meant for consumption.
Certain medical conditions can increase a dog’s risk of choking. These include respiratory problems, cancer, and neurological disorders.
Prevention of Choking in Dogs
Preventing choking in dogs involves taking proactive measures to reduce the risk of choking incidents. Some tips to help prevent choking in dogs include:
Slow down feeding
If your dog eats too fast, try slowing down their eating by using a slow feeder bowl or spreading their food out over a larger surface area. This will force your dog to eat slower and chew its food properly, reducing the risk of choking.
Supervise your dog
When giving your dog treats or toys, it’s crucial to supervise them to ensure they don’t accidentally ingest anything they shouldn’t. This is especially important for puppies and dogs that like to chew on things.
Keep small objects away
Keep small objects like coins, buttons, and toys out of your dog’s reach to prevent them from accidentally swallowing them. It’s also essential to keep garbage cans securely closed to prevent dogs from rummaging through them and ingesting dangerous items.
First Aid for Choking in Dogs
If your dog is choking, it’s crucial to act quickly to prevent any further harm. Here are some steps to follow if you suspect your dog is choking:
Check the dog’s mouth
First, open the dog’s mouth and look inside to see if you can identify the cause of the blockage. If you can see the object, carefully try to remove it using your fingers or a pair of pliers. Be careful not to push the object further down the dog’s throat.
Perform the Heimlich maneuver
If you cannot see the object or it is too far back in the throat, perform the Heimlich maneuver on the dog. Stand behind the dog and place your hands just below the ribcage. Apply firm pressure to the abdomen to help dislodge the object.
Seek veterinary attention
Even if you successfully remove the blockage, it’s essential to take your dog to a veterinarian for a checkup to ensure it didn’t suffer any internal damage.
When to perform the Heimlich maneuver on Dogs?
It’s important to note that the Heimlich maneuver should only be performed on dogs that are conscious and choking. If the dog is unconscious or not choking, performing the Heimlich maneuver can cause more harm than good. In such cases, performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is recommended.
How To Perform CPR on Dogs?
To perform CPR on a dog, first, lay them on their side on a flat surface. Then, extend their neck and head to open their airway. Next, close the dog’s mouth and place your mouth over its nose, and exhale gently, watching for its chest to rise. Continue giving breaths every 3-5 seconds until you can feel their heartbeat. If there is no heartbeat, you’ll need to perform chest compressions by placing one hand on top of the other and applying firm pressure to the ribcage. Alternate between giving breaths and chest compressions until the dog starts breathing on their own or until you can get them to a veterinarian.
Choking is a severe medical emergency that requires immediate attention. By understanding the signs of choking, taking proactive measures to prevent it, and knowing how to administer first aid, you can help your dog avoid any harm resulting from choking incidents. Remember to always consult with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has choked, and don’t hesitate to seek immediate medical attention if necessary.
Can a dog choke on water?
Yes, dogs can choke on water if they drink too quickly, especially if they are prone to choking on their food. It’s important to supervise your dog when they drink and ensure they don’t drink too fast.
Can a dog’s collar cause a choke?
Yes, a dog’s collar can cause choking if it is too tight or if the dog gets caught on something while wearing it. It’s important to ensure that your dog’s collar is properly fitted and to remove it when they are unsupervised.
What should I do if my dog is choking and I can’t remove the blockage?
If you can’t remove the blockage using your fingers or pliers, perform the Heimlich maneuver. If the dog is unconscious, perform CPR.
How can I train my dog not to eat too fast?
You can train your dog not to eat too fast by using a slow feeder bowl or spreading their food out over a larger surface area. You can also try feeding your dog smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
How can I prevent my dog from accidentally ingesting foreign objects?
You can prevent your dog from accidentally ingesting foreign objects by keeping small objects like coins, buttons, and toys out of their reach. It’s also important to supervise your dog when they are playing with toys or chewing on bones to ensure they don’t accidentally swallow anything.