Dog Choking Can be Dangerous
If we start to choke there are multiple ways to dislodge an obstruction including, sitting up, reaching into our own throat, coughing forcefully, consuming some water, signaling a family member or someone else by pointing at our throat. If all else fails and we are alone we can attempt the Heimlich Maneuver by positioning ourselves over a chair.
Dogs do not have the understanding, cognitive ability, or correct anatomy to help themselves during a choking crisis. They cannot reach into their mouths because they do not have hands, nor can they call for help or even understand what they need to do to remove the item that is causing them to choke.
With over 200,000 dog choking incidents a year it is something that we should all need to be aware of in the event of an emergency. Some dogs will swallow just about anything and If an airway becomes totally obstructed a dog can pass out and possibly even perish
Dogs present choking in a different manner then we do.
Here are signs your dog could be choking.
-Pawing at their face
-Whistling sound as obstructed air is trying to get through
What items cause Dog Choking
-Balls that are too small and can get lodged in your dog's throat
-The most common items include; socks, underwear, pantyhose, rocks, balls, chew toys, corn cobs, bones, hair ties, and sticks.
-Dental floss, cords, rope, elastics can also cause choking hazards and even worse get twisted inside the stomach or intestines.
-Foods are always tempting to dogs but when they have been wrapped in plastic or string it poses a choking hazard.
-Rawhide is hard to break down and may provide a choking hazard if a dog tries to swallow a large piece whole
Bully Sticks are fully digestible but should be taken away when they are small enough for a dog to swallow them.
Preventing choking hazards - Dogproof your house
-Supervise dogs when consuming chews (Bully Sticks, Jerky, Tracheas, Tendons, Pig Ears…)
-If you have puppies in the house do not leave them alone with treats, stuffed animals, or toys. Unless of course, they are durable toys like a Kong which they cannot chew through.
-Don’t leave personal items or foods within paws reach if your dog is a counter surfer.
-If your dog likes personal items like socks or pantyhose then keep them in s basket or hamper.
-Supervise dogs outdoors. Some dog parents have been completely unaware that their dogs were eating rocks until their dogs had physical issues including obstructions that required surgery
If your dog loves to chew find a durable dog toy like a Kong and freeze it with some chicken soup or put some peanut butter in it to keep your dog busy when your out.
Try some problem-solving treat dispensing toys to keep your dog's mind stimulated or if you have the money consider an automated treat dispenser that can keep your dog occupied so they are less likely to become bored and look for objects to swallow.
Most dogs instinctually want to chew so providing them with a Bully Stick once a day will satisfy their need to chew and also keep their teeth clean.
If your dog likes to chew wood, carpet or household items add some Bitter End or Cayenne Pepper to the area so the taste is undesirable (Always color test the area first to avoid stains if you are using peppers.)
We recommend desensitizing dogs when they are puppies by reaching into their mouths and providing a reward so they associate reaching into their mouth with a positive reward
What to do if your dog is choking
- If your dog allows you access to their mouth safely then open it up and look inside and sweep the inside and try and remove the obstruction.
- If your dog is breathing ok and you notice a bone lodge in their throat take them to the emergency clinic as they might have to be sedated to safely remove it
- If you are unable to remove the object with your fingers that is causing your dog to choke consider the Heimlich Maneuver
Heimlich Maneuver for Smaller Dogs
Carefully hold your dog on your lap and turn them onto their back, then using the palm of your hand apply pressure right beneath the rib cage and push firmly inwards and upwards 5 times in a thrusting motion. Roll your dog back onto their side and check their mouth for the food or object that was causing the issue.
Heimlich Maneuver for Medium and Large Dogs
If your dog is standing, put your arms around them so your hands join at the abdomen. Then make a fist with your hands and firmly and swiftly push up and forward five times in a thrusting motion - much like you would perform the maneuver on a human.
Doing this should dislodge the 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.
If your dog is laying on the floor, place one hand on the dog's back and use the other hand to push or squeeze their abdomen upwards and forwards towards the spine, then check your dog's mouth for the offending object.
If the choking stops and their airways have been obstructed for any period of time and they have been depleted of oxygen its best to call your Vet
IMPORTANT -Try desensitizing puppies by reaching into their mouths and providing a reward after they allow you to so they associate reaching into their mouths as a positive action.
NOTE-Don’t confuse Reverse Sneezing with Choking. Watch a youtube video so you can see what Reverse Sneezing is. It is very common in small dogs.
Don’t think your dog could ever swallow something large? Take a look at what these Dog Xrays revealed and although they did not cause choking hazards they did create obstructions and required surgeries
16 Rocks Swallowed
10 Golf Balls Swallowed
7 Corn Cobs Swallowed
Pica in dogs is a health condition characterized by the compulsive ingestion of non-food items like cloth, plastic, wood, paper, or even rocks. Dogs with pica might be obsessed with eating one type of non-food item or they might eat anything they can get their paws on.
TREATMENT AND PREVENTION OF PICA
If there isn’t an underlying medical condition, the following measures can be taken to help prevent pica and treat the behavioral issue.
- Make sure your pet is getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Ask us about your dog’s breed, age, and lifestyle for recommendations. Most dogs need at least 60 minutes of exercise per day – hunting and sporting breeds need much more.
- Consider environmental enrichment such as food puzzles, games, and a dog walker if you are away from home a lot to decrease boredom
- Eliminate access to objects that your dog may eat
- Consider training your dog to wear a basket muzzle, if she eats objects in the yard. Never leave a muzzled dog unattended.
- Leash walk your dog and distract him from eating objects or poop with treats and praise. Teach him the “leave it” command.
- Try covering the objects with a bitter apple spray or cayenne pepper.
- Provide lots of safe toys and chewing objects that your pet can’t swallow.
- If your pet continues to eat foreign objects, consider a referral to a veterinary behaviorist who can help you get to the root of your pet’s behavior
VIDEO- Policeman saves 9-month old St Bernard Puppy who is Choking