It’s not often that you will have a choking dog, and thank goodness for that. However, there are choking hazards out there that dogs can ingest and then choke on, and I’ve had my own dog choke on the piece of a stick when she was younger. Learning what the choking hazards are for dogs is a great way to keep them safe and healthy throughout their lives.
Rocks are a huge one, as dogs tend to chew on and carry around rocks in their mouths that can then be swallowed and get stuck in either the throat or the intestinal tract. Large dogs with “garbage gut” tendencies, like labs and Australian Shepherds, tend to be rock gatherers, and can actually eat and pass rocks most of the time. But rocks can get stuck, and when they do, can become difficult to extract.
Any ball that your dog can fit in their mouth all the way, like a bouncy ball or a tennis ball, poses a choking hazard to your dog. All they have to do is bite down too hard on the ball and it will pop right into the back of their throat and get stuck. It’s better to get your dog a ball bigger than its mouth, designed to still be picked up and carried, but not large enough to swallow. Or use a Frisbee as an alternate to a ball instead.
Any toy with plastic pieces that major chewers can bite off and then chew on or swallow. Stuffed animals with eyes or noses are the first to go with my dog, and she actually tries to eat the plastic nose and eyes. Also, squeaky toys can be easily destroyed when the dog tries to find the source of the noise, and the small squeaky piece can get chewed on and potentially become a choking hazard.
Sticks in the yard, and pieces of wood from the wood pile was the threat that caused my dog the most harm. When she was young she would bite off pieces of sticks, and on one occasion she had a stick in her intestines that required vet assistance to remove (she couldn’t poop) and on another occasion a piece of stick got stuck to the roof of her mouth, making her tongue block her airway. I popped the sucker out, but from then on sticks were entirely out of the question because she was always eating bark and twigs.
Rawhide bones. I’ve written an article on rawhide bones with dogs, and you can check it out: Pet Safety: How Rawhide Bones Can Harm Your Dog. It explains why rawhide bones may not be the safest choice of treat to give our loyal pets.
Whatever you give your dog to chew on, just make sure that they don’t have anything in their mouth that they can potentially choke on. As a rule, if it’s small enough to fit entirely in the mouth, it poses as a potential choking hazard.
my personal experience