You should always ensure that your dog is chewing on objects and food that is meant for dogs in order to keep the risk of your dog choking at a minimum. Here, our Bedford emergency vets talk about what to do if you notice your dog is choking and how to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
Choking in Dogs
When your dog begins to choke they will most likely begin to cough excessively. They try to use the motion fo the coughing to expel the object or blockage. You may also notice that your dog is having difficulties inhaling due to the obstructed airway.
You may also witness your dog frantically clawing at their face while they try to clear the blockage while they are choking. In severe cases, a choking dog may become unconscious. If this occurs you should bring your dog to see emergency vets in Bedford as quickly as possible.
Your Dog is Choking, What Do You Do?
When you notice that your dog is choking you should immediately contact your emergency vet in Bedford.
Begin by checking the inside of your dog's mouth to see if any food or foreign objects are lodged in your dog's mouth or throat. If there you can see something, try to wipe it away with your finger to help your dog breathe again.
If you can see an object or a piece of food but you are unable to move it, get your dog to the emergency vet as quickly as possible or try performing the Heimlich maneuver as instructed below.
If you can see a small bone lodged in your dog's throat do not try to remove it yourself. Bones can cause injury to your dog's throat. Get your dog to see emergency vets in Bedford as quickly and safely as possible in order to have the bone removed while your dog is sedated.
Properly Performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Your Dog
If you aren't able to remove the object that your dog is choking on with your fingers and once you have contacted emergency vets in Bedford, the Heimlich maneuver is your next step. Depending on the size of your dog, there are two different methods:
Smaller dogs and the Heimlich maneuver
Carefully hold your dog on your lap and turn them onto their back, then using the palm of your hand apply pressure right beneath the rib cage and push firmly inwards and upwards 5 times in a thrusting motion. Roll your dog back onto their side and check their mouth for the food or object that was causing the issue.
Medium to large dogs and the Heimlich maneuver
If your dog is standing, put your arms around them so your hands join at the abdomen. Then make a fist with your hands and firmly and swiftly push up and forward five times in a thrusting motion - much like you would perform the maneuver on a human.
Doing this should dislodge the food, but be sure to check the mouth and help remove any food that may be loose in the back of your dog's mouth so he doesn't choke or swallow what was previously bothering him.
If your dog is laying on the floor, place one hand on the dog's back and use the other hand to push or squeeze their abdomen upwards and forwards towards the spine, then check your dog's mouth for the offending object.
Once You Have Cleared Your Dog's Airway
Once you have cleared the blockage it is important to contact your emergency vet immediately. There is the possibility that your dog may still require veterinary care or hospitalization, especially in cases where your dog was without oxygen for any amount of time.
Even if you feel like your dog is fine there may be damage that you cannot see that your vet may notice. The emergency vets in Bedford may recommend a bronchoscopy to check your dog's throat for damage.
Preventing Choking in Dogs
The best way to ensure that the risk of your dog choking is as low as possible you should ensure that you are always watching your dog when they are chewing on bones and toys.
Feeding your dog a food that is formulated specifically for your dog's size can help to prevent choking, particularly for small breeds. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to monitor your dog when they are eating.
If there are children in the household, be sure that toys are kept out of your dog's reach. Children's toys can pose a potential choking risk.
When choosing toys for your dog, be sure to choose a toy that is sturdy enough to withstand your dog's level of chewing. If your dog is a more aggressive chewer be sure to look for extra-tough chew toys designed to withstand the pressure without breaking into pieces that could get lodged in your dog's throat.