Information

What to Do If Your Dog Is Choking


I am a lifelong animal lover and have a bachelor of science degree in biology.

My Papillon Kitsune, like most dogs, loves to eat. Unfortunately, he has a bad habit of eating too fast and gulping down his food before he's chewed it properly. This has lead to quite a few scares when he would have to stop eating to hack up a chunk of food that was caught in his throat. My heart stops every time this happens. I do my best to monitor his food and eating to prevent him from choking, but the fact of the matter is that dogs can choke on just about any food. Everything from regular kibble to uneatable objects can pose a potential choking risk, especially to dogs who feel that chewing food is over rated.

Hopefully most dog owners will never have to experience the sheer terror of watching their best friend choke. It is, however, important to remember that choking is something that can happen to any dog. Knowing before hand how to react if your dog starts choking can save your dog's life!

What to Do When Your Dog Is Choking

  • If your dog appears to be choking, but is making an effort to cough up the object himself, watch him closely and give him time to try to remove the object himself. Remember that if your dog can still cough, then he can breathe as well.
  • If the dog is struggling to get the object up himself, or starts to show signs of impaired breathing such as wheezing, gasping for air, general struggling, and/or pawing at the mouth, then it's time to intervene. The first step that sometimes works is to open your dog's mouth and look to see if you can see the object that is causing the choking. Sometimes you may be able to see the object near the back of the dogs mouth. Be very careful trying to pull the object out, choking dogs will usually be stressed and will be more prone to bite. It's also possible that when trying to remove the object, you could push it further into the throat and cause more harm than good. Only attempt to remove the object by hand if you feel comfortable doing so, and the object appears that it will be easy to grasp and remove.
  • If you cannot remove the object by hand, the next step is to let gravity help. If you have a small or medium sized dog, pick them up and hold them upside down. Sometimes the force of gravity will help to remove the object. If you have a large dog that you cannot fully lift up, let the dog keep his front paws on the ground but lift up the dogs hind legs and hold him tilted forward like you would a wheelbarrow.
  • If this doesn't work either, the next step is to try back blows. This is exactly what it sounds like. With the palm of your hand, give the dog four or five sharp blows between the shoulder blades.
  • The next thing to try is the Heimlich maneuver. The Heimlich maneuver is preformed on dogs almost the same way it is done on humans. Making sure your dog's head is pointed down, form a fist with one hand and cover the fist with your other hand. Place your two hands on your dogs belly, in the soft spot directly under his ribcage. Quickly thrust your hands inwards and upwards at the same time. The idea is to firmly press on your dogs lungs to force air out in a quick burst, which will hopefully have enough force to drive the object out of his throat.

Some owners worry that they may hurt their dog while doing the Heimlich maneuver. If done incorrectly, the Heimlich maneuver can fracture ribs or rarely cause internal damage. These issues are usually less serious than the fact that your dog is choking. After your dog is breathing normally and not at risk of choking to death, than you can worry about any secondary problems. Normally injuries such as fractured ribs can be treated successfully after your dog's life has been saved.

Once the object is removed from your dog's throat, closely monitor your dog to make sure that he is breathing normally. If your dog does not begin breathing normally on his own, you may need to start artificial respiration. If your dog does not have a pulse, begin CPR. Even if your dog does seem perfectly fine, it's a good idea to get him/her to a vet for a check up, just to make sure everything is okay.

Pet owners should know ahead of time how to deal with emergencies such as a choking pet. Hopefully most dog owners will never have to use these techniques on their dog, but in the event that your dog does ever choke, knowing how to react quickly and calmly can mean the difference between life and death for your best friend.

. on February 18, 2020:

My Dog was choking on a whole potatoe for a couple minutes. Absolutly no air was getting to his lungs. After trying the Heimlich and various other methods, my Dad stuck his arm down his throat and pushed the potatoe through. My Dog had tears pouring out of it's eyes. He seemed to be in shock for a but returned to it's usual playful and begging behaviors after a couple minutes.

[email protected] on March 15, 2016:

Thanks so much for your help and advice and support . I have a Jack Russell . His name is Snoopy . He is a rescue dog . I believe that he rescued me ! God sent him to me,When I found out that I have heart disease . I LOVE SNOOPY very much . I don't know how I managed before he came into my life . Thank-You Lord for sending him to me. I am truly blessed and grateful . What a wonderful BLESSING he is to me.Thanks for SHARING and CARING!

arlene on December 21, 2013:

Twice 2 of my dogs stopped breathing first max with large lump of cheese he collapsed and went solid but got him back and 7 week puppy with biscuits but managed to get her back its awfull hands get mauled but at least dogs come through :)

HomeDIY on May 23, 2012:

Never thought about having to use this but glad I read it so I am prepared if I have to, great article!

Dragonrain (author) on May 17, 2012:

Wow, that must have been so scary! I'm so glad to hear that your Yorky is ok!

taline on May 16, 2012:

thank you so much my little yorky was choking finally my husband saved his life by holding him upside down it took him good 10 minutes to save my beautiful dog.we both cried after so hard .

Barbara Badder from USA on March 06, 2012:

I love your dog's photo at the top. Good article.

pat on March 06, 2012:

Once my poodle came in choking and run under my bed.It was time for me to go to work.She seemed to know it.I was pondering what to.She came to me and laid down on her back.I felt the roof of her mouth.there was a flat chicken bone stuck between her her jaws.I was turned it sideways and got it out. How did that dog to give up and come to me?

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on March 06, 2012:

Great information to know. I have a dog that thinks chewing is "over rated". She gulps her food like it is going to run away from her. This may come from a prior owner. I am glad to know what to do. Thank you for this good information. Voted up,useful and sharing on my FB. :)

Dragonrain (author) on March 06, 2012:

Thanks for reading and commenting!

I hope you never have to use it too, but it's a good thing to know just in case. :) Glad that your dog was ok after the rawhide incident!

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on March 06, 2012:

Thanks so much for the lesson. I hope I never have to use it, but it's better to be prepared than not. My dog also seems to believe chewing is over-rated!

When she was younger, a relative gave her one of those large round disc-shaped rawhide chews (against my better judgment), and it became stuck in her jaws. She seemed frantic, though able to breathe, so I risked the possibility of being bitten and wrested it from inside her mouth. No more of those things! I don't take chances.

However, one can never be certain a dog won't find something that's not meant to be food and try to eat it or even just chew on it, so your information about what to do if a dog chokes is great. Again, thanks.

Voted UP, USEFUL and INTERESTING.


Prevent Dog Choking: Steps to Check the Correct Fit of Your Dog’s Collar

First, check out whether your dog’s collar is the right one for your dog’s age, size and breed. Here’s how to get the right size collar for your dog.

  • Use a soft measuring tape to measure the top part of your dog’s neck and add 1 inch. This part of your dog’s neck is the narrowest part.
  • Slide your index and middle finger under your dog’s collar to check that it’s not too tight. Your dog’s collar should fit snugly so it won’t to slip over your dog’s ears.

3 Dog Choking Dangers from Dog Collars & Tags

Second, here are 3 dangers to avoid that will help prevent your dog from choking due to his collar.

  1. Tight Collar – Your dog’s tight collar could restrict his airway and make it difficult for your dog to breath. Tight dog collars also cause chafing around your dog’s neck which can lead to skin irritations.

2. Loose Collar – Your dog’s loose collar can easily slide off. This means that your dog’s collar could get caught on gates, furniture, bushes and other dogs when they play. The risk for your dog is choking or suffocation if he’s unsupervised or home alone.

3. Tags on Collar – Dog tags can get caught on things like your dog’s crate, furniture or bushes. Your dog may twist and turn to get loose which could have fatal results from choking.

6 Tips to Prevent Dog Choking Injuries & Accidents

Lastly, here are 6 valuable tips to help you keep your dog safe from injuries due to his collar.

  1. Micro chipping – One strategy to protect your dog from collar injuries and choking is to get your dog micro chipped. Your dog also has a better chance to be found if he’s gone missing because his collar and tags could easily be removed by someone who might want to steal your dog.

2. Break-Away Collars – These collars will unsnap when it gets stuck on something like your dog’s crate or a bush. Dog choking accidents can happen in the blink of your eye which means you need to supervise your dog at all times.

3. Collar Free – Consider removing your dog’s collar when he sleeps or is home alone, plays with other dogs, and when your dog is asleep at night. This way, your dog won’t be in danger of choking from his collar or dog tags when you’re not able to be with him.

4. Boarding and Doggie Day Care – Discuss your collar on and collar off rules with the owner of all dog boarding and day care centres so your dog is safe in their facility and with other dogs at play.

5. Dog Sitters & Dog Walkers – Instruct your dog sitters and walkers on your collar rules and dog choking safety so they understand the do’s and don’ts to keep your dog safe inside and on walks. This includes being careful not to pull your dog with his leash and cause harm to your dog’s neck and throat.

6. Groomers – You may want to give you groomer specific instructions about your dog’s collar when they wash and dry your dog for safety. Soapy fur becomes slippery and collars can slide off while your dog gets lathered up. To prevent accidents, always require that your dog is supervised and never left alone while they are at your groomers.

You’ve just read about the dangers of dog collars and how to prevent dog choking which will help you keep your dog safe from accidents and injuries that could result from your dog’s collar and dog tags. Freak accidents like dog’s choking by his own collar can happen in seconds so I hope this information gives you all the tips you need for your dog’s safety.

Share this article with your friends and family so they have ways to keep their dog safe from accidents, injuries or choking as a result of their dog’s collar.


What to do if your dog is choking?

Any pet owner will identify with the heart stopping moment when you think your dog is choking.

Unfortunately, it can be an all too common occurrence for dog owners. This is because dogs are inquisitive creatures and will often chew on anything they can get hold of: from plastic bags to sticks, socks and toys. If it goes down the wrong way though, it may leave them unable to breathe.

Choking is not only worrying it can be extremely dangerous.

Choking occurs when something becomes stuck in the back of the throat and blocks the airway.

If the airway is partially blocked the animal may start retching, pacing back and forth and pawing at their mouth. They may be struggling to whine and alert you to their problem.

If their airway is totally blocked they may be unable to make any sound at all.

Choking

Your pet may show clear signs of distress and paw at their mouth, gag, retch or drool. They are also likely to panic and may become wheezy. If they are struggling to breathe, they may appear to cough and their mucous membranes may start turning blue. If untreated they will collapse and die.

If your pet is unable to breathe, every second counts and you should start first aid immediately.

If you are unable to dislodge the object within a couple of minutes do not delay getting to the vet.

Knowing exactly how to respond if your dog chokes could save his life.

PLEASE LEARN DOG FIRST AID IN ADVANCE OF AN EMERGENCY SITUATION – do not rely on google to direct you to the most appropriate and correct advice in an emergency situation.

Free resources

We offer many free resources to help owners learn in advance how to help with medical emergencies with their pets. Knowing what to do in an emergency can help you remain calm and react effectively.

We have some great advice as to how to help your dog if they are choking: https://firstaidforpets.net/how-to-help-a-choking-dog/

We have also produced a free online course on how to help your dog if they choke: https://firstaidforpets.net/free-dog-choking-course/

We offer many free and instructive videos on the First Aid for Life YouTube channel too.

Our video How To Save A Choking Dog has been watched a staggering 565,131 to date. We regularly receive texts, calls and emails from dog owners grateful for clear instructions on how to help their pets when choking.

Here is a selection of some of the comments we have received:

Abby X says: Thanks to this video I saved my puppy’s life.

Lex Johnson says: I watched this video a few months ago and thanks to this useful information I helped my clients dog. He was coughing yet not choking because I could hear noise. He was frantically running around crying & trying to throw up. All I did was lift his back legs up and he threw up the stick right away. THANK YOU!

SK shared: My dog almost died last night, choking and collapsed unconscious while eating food too quickly. Thankfully I saved her by giving her the Heimlich, similar to what is shown in this video. First aid for pets is just as important, if you share your home with pets.

Snapple187 said: My terrier was choking when I found your video, it was terrifying. But thankfully you mentioned what to do for small dogs first. He was shaking from asphixiation. But your video saved his life. Please don’t forget the good things that you’ve done, your work has made a difference! Thank you so much!

Gingercastic says: Thank you. I had a dog that choked to death, and from that experience I was very scared. My recent dog was choking and I used all the tips from here and now he is safe and well :)

Montydesijokes says simply: Great video save my dog’s life thank you for posting it.

LÏL J wrote:Thank you! If it wasnt for you, my dog would be dead! Thankfully not!

Julian Hecker recently commented: Very helpful to reduce panic in a near emergency situation

Anna Meyer sent us a heartfelt thank you: This video saved my beloved dog’s life today. Can’t thank you enough.

FoxXxTaco was grateful for the reassurance: This is honestly so helpful, thank you for putting this up, one less worry off my shoulders.

We are delighted our information has helped so many of you. Please do share this information with any other pet owners you know.

We also run online dog first aid course to find our more click here:

To sign up for our newsletter offering free information, resources and articles for pets and their humans click here: https://firstaidforlife.org.uk/newsletter-sign-up/

Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life

Award-winning first aid training tailored to your needs

It is strongly advised that you attend a fully regulated Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit https://firstaidforlife.org.uk, https://firstaidforpets.net or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.

First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning, fully regulated first aid training provider. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. Courses for groups or individuals at our venue or yours.

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.


What To Do If Your Dog Is Choking

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Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people. Steve Jobs

They never said winning was easy. Some people can’t handle success, I can. You see the hedges, how I got it shaped up? It’s important to shape up your hedges, it’s like getting a haircut, stay fresh. I told you all this before, when you have a swimming pool, do not use chlorine, use salt water, the healing, salt water is the healing. Look at the sunset, life is amazing, life is beautiful, life is what you make it. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water. Of course they don’t want us to eat our breakfast, so we are going to enjoy our breakfast.

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If your dog stops and rests in between bursts, breathing normally, she is probably coughing. If she appears panicked, isn't getting any noise out, and seems to be gasping, she might be choking. She may swipe at her mouth with her paw in an attempt to dislodge an object. Collapse and blue-tinged gums also indicate that your dog is not getting enough air.

If your dog is choking, you will need to attempt to check for something in her mouth which is blocking her airway.

Be careful! You could be bitten by your dog because she is scared.

If possible, carefully open your dog's mouth. Do so by placing one hand over her muzzle, then using your thumb on one side and fingers on the other to gently press her lips into her gums. Once she's opened a bit, use your other thumb to pull down on her lower jaw from the front. Hold the top teeth open with your other fingers.

If you can see the obstruction, see if you can grab it. You may be able to carefully use tweezers or a hemostat, which are great items to keep in your canine first aid kit.

If you are unable to grab the object or you can't see a foreign object in your dog's mouth, do the following:

  1. If your dog is small (less than 15 pounds), try holding her upside down by holding firmly to her back legs, using the other hand to support her chest. Don't shake her, just hold her gently upside down to see whether gravity will remove the foreign object for you.
  2. If your dog is large, leave her front feet on the ground and raise her back feet in the air as though she is a wheelbarrow.
  3. If holding her upside down doesn't work, perform a Heimlich maneuver on your choking dog:
    1. With your pet in a standing position, kneel down behind her and wrap your arms around her waist. Place your hands together into a fist, and put them about an inch behind her sternum.
    2. Thrust quickly and firmly in an upward direction 4 or 5 times quickly to dislodge the obstruction.

Once you have dislodged the object, check for breathing and a heartbeat and perform rescue breathing or CPR as required.

Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.


Watch the video: 5 Common Signs that Your Dog is Choking (May 2021).