Having dogs is like having young children, dog owners will tell you. They are an absolute joy but require constant care and monitoring. Dogs can wreak havoc around the house if you leave them alone long enough. And like children, they like to chew on everything they come across.
That’s why owners are always vigilant about what their puppy gnaws on. Sometimes this can mean your dog dragging you into a playful chase for a few seconds while you try to get him to let go of any potentially dangerous objects he insists on hiding from you. But sometimes things go wrong and the object gets lodged in your dog’s throat.
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How to tell if your dog is choking
Here are some signs that your dog is choking and needs immediate help.
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme distress
- Persistent gurgling and choking sound
- Peep in the mouth or in the head
If you find your dog unconscious, he may have choked on something and passed out.
What to do if your dog is choking
After confirming that your dog is choking, you need to act immediately. You should always consider a choking episode an emergency, according to veterinarians at Jacksonville Community Pet Clinics.
Try to see if you can remove what’s lodged in his throat with his hands. PetMD has outlined steps for doing this.
- Restrain your dog from biting you; but do it slowly because he is already panicked. Do not use a muzzle. Open his mouth wide with both hands. Use one hand to grip the upper jaw and the other to grip the lower jaw. Be sure to press the dog’s lips between your fingers and his teeth to protect yourself in case your dog tries to bite.
- Try using your fingers to dislodge the object. You must be very careful not to push the object further down your dog’s throat. Pet MD recommends that you try not to remove bones lodged deep in the throat, as they can be dangerous to remove without sedation by a veterinarian.
If that doesn’t work, you can try performing the Heimlich maneuver. The maneuver varies slightly depending on the size of the dog. If you are unable to dislodge the object, you should rush the dog to the nearest veterinarian.
How to Perform the 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 him on his back and apply pressure to your dog’s stomach just below the rib cage
PetMD advises against getting a large dog.
Instead, if your dog is in a standing position, wrap your arms around him from behind and clasp your hands at his belly. Close your fist and push firmly behind the dog’s rib cage.
If your dog is lying on its side, use one hand to press down on the dog’s abdomen while placing your other hand on the dog’s back for support. Tighten the abdomen towards the spine.
This maneuver may bring the object closer to the top of the dog’s throat, if not all the way, in which case you can try to pull it out with your hands.
If you manage to save your dog from choking, PetMDs advises that you take your dog to the vet for a checkup as the object may have caused throat damage.
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