What To Do If Your Dog’s Choking

What To Do If Your Dog’s Choking

Author WDF Staff


Keeping your dog out of harm’s way is one of the most important things dog owners have to do. However, dogs love chewing things, so choking is a common medical emergency dog owners should know how to handle. If you are reading this and you have an emergency, here is what you should do;

  • Restrain your dog
  • Cut anything wrapped around your dog’s throat (if that is the case)
  • Open the dog’s mouth and examine the inside
  • Use large tweezers to retrieve the object stuck in your dog’s throat
  • Perform a Heimlich maneuver, but only if you know how
  • Don’t push the object with your fingers
  • If you can’t see an object, don’t examine the dog’s throat with your fingers

After the initial help you provided to your dog, make sure you take them to the nearest vet.

What to do if your dog’s choking?

Choking is a medical emergency that can be pretty dangerous and scary. The next few things you do and the manner of your reaction can mean the difference between your dog’s life and death. We know it is not something you can do easily, but you should try to remain as calm as possible and start examining and helping your dog. Here are the steps we mentioned above in a little more detail.

Restrain your dog

If your dog is choking, chances are they will become very anxious and scared. They do not understand what is happening to them and will start panicking. You must restrain your dog for everyone’s safety. Scared and confused dogs can react aggressively and bite. You have to make sure you are not in the crossfire and get bitten. Plus, you can only start helping your dog when they are a bit calmer, and you can examine their throat and neck.

dogue puppy

Cutting the obstruction

Some dogs might start choking because they wrapped themselves into something. Our homes are full of things that could easily choke our dogs. Even something like curtains or your dog’s collar can choke them. If that is the case, you should grab a pair of scissors and start cutting anything getting in the way of your dog’s normal breathing. Some dogs get their collars stuck on their crate and can choke. Make sure you remove your dog’s collar if they are in their crates.

Examining the mouth

Most dog choking cases are because a foreign object gets stuck in the dog’s throat. Things like rawhide, toys, rubber balls, plastic bags, or clothing can easily get lodged in the dog’s throat. You should open your dog’s mouth and assess the situation. See if you can see and locate the object causing the obstruction. If you can see it, you might be able to remove it or break it down inside the dog’s throat.

dalmatian looking at dog treat

Removing the object

If you successfully spotted the object causing obstructions in your dog’s airways, you should never try to remove it with your fingers. All dog owners should have a pair of large tweezers at home for cases like this. While you can successfully remove pieces of food, things like plastic bags or socks can be tricky. Only try to remove them with tweezers, and make sure you don’t pull too hard on them because you can damage the soft tissue inside your dog’s throat.

Heimlich maneuver for dogs

If you cannot locate or safely remove the object stuck in your dog’s throat, it is possible the object moved down the throat and is unreachable with fingers or tweezers. If that is the case, the best thing to do might be the Heimlich maneuver for dogs. Here is how to perform it;

Small dogs

Place your dog in the correct position against your stomach. Their head should be up and their paws down. Locate the soft hollow under your dog’s ribs. Your closed fist should fit snuggly in there. Thrust two or three times towards your stomach. The same works for medium-sized dogs.

Large and giant dogs

If your dog is too large to place them in this position safely, you should put your dog on their side and kneel behind their back. Locate the soft hollow and place your closed fist on it. Push inward and upward, towards their head, a few times and see if the object will dislodge.

pug closeup

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Heimlich maneuver is risky, and you should only use it in extreme emergencies. It can damage the dog’s ribs, so make sure that you take your dog to the vet after you helped them.

Avoid fingers

The last two tips are more warnings than steps. If you cannot see the lodged object in your choking dog’s throat, you shouldn’t examine the inside of their throat with your fingers. The tissue inside their throats is very delicate, and fingers and nails can easily damage it. If you can barely see the object, you should not push it further down. Instead, get the tweezers and try to pull it out safely. If you have anyone close to you, get them to call your vet and ask for advice. Make sure they tell the vet you will get your dog there as soon as possible.

World Dog Finder team

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