What to Do if Your Dog is Choking – Dog FAQs

what to do if your dog is choking

Since dogs are known to chew everything in sight, there is a possibility that they could choke. So the question is, do you know what to do if your dog is choking

Getting your dog to the vet for help isn’t enough because sometimes, we don’t have the luxury of time. If you take too long to dislodge the item, the dog might suffocate.

How Do You Know If a Dog Is Choking? Signs Your Dog is Choking

If your dog is choking, he may paw at his mouth, although this is not always just associated with choking. Coughing, however, is a sign of choking. 

If your fur baby is suffocating, more often than not, he will panic. You might hear his labored breathing.

Another sign of choking: your dog is unconscious or unresponsive. If so, quickly check the mouth and throat for any foreign objects. No matter what the size of an object, it can cause choking in dogs. 

Some of the most common items causing choking are sticks, chew toys, and rubber balls.

Immediate Response

If the dog is choking, he will very likely be in a state of panic. This is true even with dogs that are generally calm because they simply can’t breathe.

Your first job is to protect yourself because you can’t help your dog if you’re hurt. Restrain your dog but don’t muzzle him.

Using both hands, pry open your dog’s mouth. Since the dog is suffocating, he may bite, so practice caution in doing this.

Quickly inspect his mouth and remove the item with your fingers, sweeping across the back of his mouth. 

Do not try to dislodge or pull out a bone from deep in your dog’s throat. Instead, take your dog to the vet immediately. Such objects will only be removed safely after your dog is sedated.

Sometimes it’s impossible to remove the object from the dog’s mouth or throat with only your fingers. If you can see something but can’t remove it, quickly call your local veterinarian or take the dog to an animal hospital right away.

You may not see any obstruction in the dog’s mouth. But, it is also possible that your dog may be unconscious. 

That’s why it’s crucial to know what to do if your dog is choking in advance. Watching videos and understanding the steps involved in saving your dog’s life is essential and time well spent.

Small Dog Heimlich Maneuver

To perform the Heimlich maneuver on your small dog, lay him on his back. From there, find the area just below the rib cage in the abdomen and apply pressure.

Large Dog Heimlich Maneuver

The difference between performing the Heimlich maneuver on a small dog and a large dog is that you can easily lift the smaller pet, so the position will be different.

When it comes to a large dog that’s standing, join your hands around his abdomen, below his rib cage. Make a fist and proceed to push firmly forward and up, as you would do for a person.

Watch this video of a veterinarian demonstrating the Heimlich Maneuver on a Large Dog

Credit: Veterinary Secrets

However, if the dog is lying on his side, put one hand on his back to support the other hand to firmly push the abdomen forward and upward in the direction of the spine.

It’s essential to inspect your dog’s mouth for any objects dislodged after performing the Heimlich Maneuver. Remove the item or objects, being very careful, and following the steps above.

The object may be lodged in the back of the throat, so you’ll have to really look for it. Use your index finger to hook it out if necessary.

Emergency Assistance

Your dog may also need CPR, so you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Even after removing the object from your dog’s mouth or throat, it is imperative to take your dog to the vet right away. There could be some damage. There could be further problems if your dog was without oxygen for some time.

Your veterinarian may recommend hospitalization to address the issue. There will also likely be tests done in addition to the physical examination. X-rays and bronchoscopy may be ordered to ensure the object has been completely dislodged and removed.

We can’t always prevent choking in dogs because they are forever putting things in their mouth; so, it is highly recommended to treat him like a baby all his life. Always observe what your dog is putting in his mouth. Any large chunks of food should be cut, and never give your dog any cooked bones, chicken bones, or T-bones.

Once a bone fits in your dog’s mouth, take it away from him, whether it is the real thing, a chew toy, or a rawhide. If you were one of those dog owners that doesn’t know what to do if your dog is choking, we hope we have taught you how to save your pet’s life and encouraged you to further investigate it.