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The Most Common Causes of Choking in Dogs From Expert Veterinarian in Simi Valley
When a dog chokes, it can be a scary and life-threatening emergency. Choking occurs when an object blocks your dog’s airway. This needs immediate attention to dislodge or remove the blockage to allow oxygen to enter your pet’s airway again.
Usually, your beloved dog can cough up the obstruction. Sometimes they may need help. You may have to do your best to manually remove the object if you can see it. If your dog loses consciousness, you may also need to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Below, we will walk you through these techniques and give you more detailed information on how to help your pet through a choking event.
Common Causes of Choking in Dogs
Dogs are notorious for eating items that they should not. Choking does not only happen on foreign objects like sticks or toys. Choking can happen due to a number of different reasons.
Foreign Objects: Some dogs are curious and will eat anything that they can. Leaving small objects on the floor or in reach of your pooch can be dangerous.
Bones: No matter how much your dog begs, do not give them bones. Bones are dangerous in more ways than one. They can get stuck in the throat and cause choking. A bone can also scratch the windpipe. Once the bone has been ingested, it can block, damage, and penetrate the intestinal wall. This can lead to the need for life-saving surgery and possibly death.
Dog Toys: Chew toys and crushed balls can get stuck in your dog’s throat. When giving your pet a toy, make sure that it is large enough that it cannot get stuck. Dog toys often have squeakers, too. Dogs are known to rip these out and eat them.
Sticks: Dogs left outside unattended often chew on sticks. Small pieces are easily inhaled and can get stuck in their throat.
Tight Collars: Collars can get too tight and choke your dog. Avoid using choke chains and collars. Instead, use a harness. This can help prevent choking and neck injuries.
Collapsed Trachea: A collapsed trachea can cause your dog to choke. They may also be gasping for breath, wheezing, or coughing. Using a collar can cause a collapsed trachea, so it’s best to use a harness around their body, which is as effective if not more than a collar.
Preventing Your Dog from Choking
Choking is not completely preventable. However, there are some things that you can do to help prevent your dog from choking:
pickup small toys & hazards
remove sticks and rocks from your yard
never give your dog bones
use a harness instead of a collar
do not give them large pieces of food
Signs of Choking
Your dog cannot verbally explain when something is wrong. When they are choking, there are signs they may exhibit. Below is a comprehensive list of the most common symptoms:
gasping for breath
whistling of squeaking sounds when breathing
rubbing face on the ground
pawing at the mouth
gums and tongue are blue or white
loss of consciousness
What to do When Your Dog is Choking
When your dog is choking, it is important that you keep calm. You need to keep a level head when trying to perform life-saving measures:
If your dog is still conscious, gently open its mouth and look for obstructing objects. Try to remove the item. Do not put your fingers in its mouth,as this could cause the object to be pushed further down the throat. If your dog is not unconscious, it may bite you out of self-preservation during a life-threatening event. Instead, lift your dog’s rear legs up and thump on its back between the shoulder blades. This can dislodge the object.
If that doesn’t work, you will have to perform the Heimlich maneuver, which is outlined below:
For Small Dogs: Lay the dog on its back and hold the head so that the spine is elongated. Place one fist against the dog’s abdomen where the sternum ends. Hold your fist with the other hand. Perform 4 to 5 quick thrusts inward and upward.
For Large Dogs: If the dog is conscious and standing, stand behind them and wrap your arms around their belly. Join your hands together and make a fist. Place your fist just behind their ribcage and push firmly up and forward.
If your dog is unconscious, lie them on their side. Place one of your hands on their back. Make the other hand into a fist and place it directly under their ribcage. Press your first firmly up and forwards toward their spine. Perform thrusts 4 to 5 times. Check to see if the obstruction was dislodged. Repeat if necessary.
If the dog is still unconscious after the object is dislodged, try to perform rescue breathing as you would for an unconscious human. Contact an emergency veterinarian for further help.
Learn More About Choking Prevention
If you want to learn more about choking prevention and the Heimlich maneuver, call Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital & Emergency today at 805-306-0633. We are located at 1376 Erringer Road in Simi Valley. We treat clients from all surrounding areas including Simi Valley, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, Chatsworth and areas nearby Ventura County. We look forward to speaking with you about your pet’s health and longevity.