Most dogs will chew just about anything - bones, toys, shoes. But what should you do if something gets lodged in your dog's mouth or throat and they start to choke? Here, our Memphis emergency veterinarians share what to do in a choking emergency.
Signs Your Dog is Choking
One of the first signs that your dog is choking is coughing. If your dog has something stuck in their mouth or throat, they may begin coughing to try and expel it. Another sign of choking may be if your dog start pawing at their mouth or head.
If you notice any of these signs, check your dog's mouth to see if any food might be lodged inside. If there is food inside, try to swipe it away with your finger to help your dog breathe again.
Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs
In you aren't able to remove what your dog is choking on, you'll have to do the Heimlich maneuver.
For smaller breeds, carefully turn them over and put pressure on their upper abdomen, right beneath the rib cage. For large breeds, put your arms around the dog so they join at the abdomen.
Then take a fist with your hands and push up and forward - much like you would for a human.
Doing this should dislodge food, but be sure to check the mouth and help remove any food that may be loose in the back of your dog's mouth so he doesn't choke or swallow what was previously bothering him.
What to do After the Choking has Stopped
When a dog chokes, contact your vet immediately. It's likely the vet will want to see your pet right away to make sure the choking didn't cause any harm to your dog's body that you can't see.
Preventing Future Choking
To prevent chances of your dog choking in the future, make sure to keep an eye on anything that could be a potential choking hazard.
Generally, dog food is formulated with a dog's size in mind, but it's always a good idea to monitor your dog when they are eating.
Make sure to clean up anything your dog could potentially choke on beyond food. Children's toys can pose a potential choking risk, so be sure they are put away. When choosing dog toys, make sure they are sturdy so that pieces won't break off and get lodged in your dog's throat.