Dogs do choke on things- most commonly bones or smaller toys, like balls that can fit into a dog’s mouth. What are the warning signs that your dog is choking, and what do you do when your dog is choking? Here are some tips that could help save your dog’s life one day…
Dogs typically do not swallow items entirely when they are choking. Usually an object is simply lodged in the back of their throat behind their teeth, or stuck to the roof of their mouth and blocking their airway. This happened to my dog when she was a puppy- she was chewing on a stick and a portion of the stick broke off and the piece lodged itself to the roof of her mouth so she couldn’t breathe right. Her tongue and that stick were blocking her airway.
Dogs will typically panic when they swallow something or get an object stuck in their mouth. Common reactions in choking dogs are frantically backing up or going in circles, with a paw scratching at the mouth, and the dog will likely make muffled frightened noises. They may also hold their head high with their necks stretched out and eyes bulging, trying to breathe. If you see your dog doing this, they may be choking, and you need to see if they have an object lodged in their mouth or throat.
Take a roll of first aid tape and place it in the front of the dog’s mouth to hold their mouth open, or hold their mouth open with both hands so you can peer inside to see if you can see an object lodged in the back of their mouth or in the roof of their mouth. If you can see an object, don’t try to grab it with your hands (that’s what I did with the stick in my dog’s mouth- she bit the crap out of me but I got it out); rather, use a blunt sturdy object, like a pencil end or other blunt object, to get beyond the dog’s teeth and try to get behind the object to pop it out. If you don’t have a roll of tape to keep your dog’s mouth open, have someone hold the dog’s mouth open by having the dog sit down and have the person stand over the dog’s back and use either hand to hold the top and bottom of the dog’s jaws open so you can try to extract the object yourself.
You can try to dislodge the object as well by standing over the dog and placing your arms over his chest so his shoulders rest just over your arms. Place one fist just under the dog’s ribcage and the other fist on top of the first. Your hands placement should be between the dog’s lower stomach and their ribcage. Then, quickly and firmly thrust your fists inward and up to try to pop the object out. Do this until the object dislodges.
If nothing you do works, get your dog to the vet immediately. Cover the dog in a blanket to keep them calm, and get them to the vet as quickly as you can. If you have someone with you, let them drive and you sit with the dog and cup their muzzle in your hands and breathe into their nose and mouth to give them air. A choking dog who cannot breathe is a serious situation, so getting them the help they need quickly is your best bet to your dog’s surviving a choking incident.
advice from my sister, who was a vet assistant for 2 years