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How You Can Save a Choking Dog

Knowing how to administer first aid can save not only people’s lives but also our pets’ lives. Sometimes the things in our homes can be a choking hazard. Small objects like children’s toys or even parts of your dog’s food can get stuck in their throat, so it’s better to know how to act in this situation instead of waiting for a vet to come to the rescue.

We at Bright Side want to be prepared to save our dogs’ lives if it ever comes to it. So here’s what you can do to help your best buddy.

Why your dog could be choking

  • A foreign object stuck in their throat: The most common objects that can get stuck here are balls and toys, along with bones, sticks, rawhide, and anything else that is small enough to fit into their mouth but too big to swallow, including pieces of larger objects.
  • A tangled collar: The collar buckle can get stuck in bushes, fences, and even in another dog’s collar. That will make it wrap around the dog’s throat and tighten, which can lead to choking. It could also happen when a dog pulls on the leash too hard.
  • A collapsing trachea: Unfortunately, there’s no cure for this condition. But it’s possible to minimize its negative effects if you keep your dog cool and thin because excessive body weight and heat can worsen this condition.
  • An infectious disease: Kennel cough is a disease that makes it seem like a dog is choking on something. Luckily, it can be easily treated with cough medicine and antibiotics. Because of another disease known as puppy strangles, the dog’s throat and lymph nodes can get swollen and cause choking.

Look out for these signs of choking.

  • Coughing
  • Drooling
  • Gagging
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pawing at the mouth or head
  • Blue or pale gums and tongue color
  • Regurgitation
  • Fright, disorientation, and distress
  • Unconsciousness

What you can do if an object gets stuck in your dog’s throat

Open your dog’s mouth, pull their tongue, and straighten their neck. Check if you can see what’s stuck inside the throat. Be very careful if you’re using your fingers to feel for the object inside. Dogs have small bones that support the base of their tongue, and sometimes dog owners mistake it for a chicken bone and want to remove it.

Also, be cautious of your fingers because the dog will feel frightened and might bite you. You can put a piece of cloth between your hand and their teeth to avoid that. If you see the object, try to sweep it toward the center and remove it. Don’t push it further down the throat. If you can’t do it with your fingers, try using pliers or tweezers, but be careful not to damage the dog’s Adam’s apple.

Also, try applying pressure at the bottom of the dog’s jaw and press forward, as if you want to squeeze something out.

If you weren’t able to remove the object with your fingers, try to perform the Heimlich maneuver. If you have a small dog, lift them up and place them with their back against your stomach. Put your fist under their ribs and push with it toward the stomach and upward, repeating several times.

If you have a larger dog, stand behind them while they’re also standing. Wrap your hands around their body behind the ribcage and press hard, 5 times up and forward, toward the dog’s head. If it doesn’t work, lift their back legs off the floor and try pressing again or try giving 5 sharp blows with your hands between the dog’s shoulder blades.

You can prevent this unpleasant situation from happening.

  • Make sure your dog’s collar isn’t too tight.
  • When you buy new toys, make sure they aren’t too small for your dog or too easy to rip apart. Watch out for toys that have detachable parts — this applies especially to toys you already have that weren’t intended for dogs. For example, plush animal toys often have small eyes made of plastic that can easily be ripped off.
  • The same goes for other objects. Make sure you don’t leave anything out that could be dangerous to a dog lying on the floor or walking around the house. These objects could be rocks, ping pong balls, etc.
  • Teach your dog not to eat everything they see on the street and not to rip things apart.

Has your pet ever had something stuck in their throat? What did you do? What other things in our homes could be dangerous to our dogs?

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