What To Do When Your Dog Is Choking – Can You Help?

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Choking can cause serious damage to your dog's mouth, throat, and overall health. You might need to help him on the spot. If your dog is choking, here is what you need to do.

Dogs are very curious creatures – they are ready to explore an unknown area and have a bite of everything. It’s just how they are wired.

They explore the world by using their noses and use their mouth to taste new and interesting things.

If you are a dog owner already, you know that dogs are big foodies.

They are even ready to overeat, vomit, and even try to eat what just came out of their stomach – they are just adorable, right? Have you ever thought that your dog might choke on something while eating?

Or you have already witnessed a situation where your dog seemed as if he was choking? If so, you know thats not a pleasant event to witness.

Can dogs choke so easily, and are they in danger of specific items? Let’s check.

Heimlich Maneuver And Choking Dog

When a person chokes, you know that you need to perform a Heimlich Maneuver to save a person’s life. What to do when it comes to saving a dog from choking? Can you apply the same principle?

Can you perform a Heimlich Maneuver on a choking dog? It turns out that you can, but you need to know how to do it, based on the dog’s size, primarily.

Did you know that across the States per year around 200,000 choking accidents occur in dogs? To put it into numbers, people spend around $500,000 in veterinarian fees, next to strong emotional and physical suffering.

Dogs are usually in danger of choking on their favorite toys and treats. The best solution is alwasy to get your dog to the vet in a matter of seconds, but since that’s not alwasy possible, you should know what to do.

You need to know how to take action. Here is how you should perform Heimlich Maneuver in a worst-case scenario.

Performing Heimlich Maneuver On Your Dog

When a dog is choking oxygen is cut off to both the brain and circulatory system, making Fido start panicking. This state can force even the calmest dogs into a state of panic, and out-of-control behavior.

If your dog is panicking, try to keep him restrained so he doesn’t hurt himself or you.

The very first rule is to not obstruct the dog’s mouth any more than it already is – you want to keep his mouth free for him to move it around.

The second most important move is to take a look inside your dog’s mouth to see if you can see any sign of obstruction.

If you spot it, try to reach the obstruction, pull the tongue forward, remove the blockage if possible – be careful not to force anything if you aren’t sure.

If you cannot see the obstruction, or you can not reach it, contact your veterinarian immediately or head toward the nearest veterinarian office.

Choking in pups can make them unconscious, opposite to larger and older dogs.

Performing The Heimlich Maneuver

Yes, there is a difference in methods based on your dog’s size. Puppies are smaller in size and more sensitive and prone to fractures.

This is why you should really be careful because you don’t want to break any bone of your dog while trying to save his life.

If your puppy starts choking, here is what you should do:

  • Place your pup on his back
  • Hold his head up
  • Make sure that his spine is long set on the ground
  • Make a fist with one hand and place it against the dog’s abdomen
  • The fist should be placed where the sternum starts
  • Grasp the fist with your other hand and give four of five rapid thrusts inward and upward

If you have a large dog and he starts choking, here is what you should do:

  • If your dog is standing, put your arms around his belly while joining your hand from behind
  • Make a fist and push with it firmly up and forward
  • Make sure that you push right behind the rib cage

If your dog is lying down on his side:

  • Place one hand on his back
  • Use your other hand to squeeze the abdomen upwards and forwards towards the spine
  • Do this four or five times
  • Check the dog’s airway again and remove anything if possible

What if your dog is unconscious?

If your dog is unconscious, clear the airway and prepare for the following step – rescue breathing.

Check out again and remove any objects that may be blocking his airway as described above. The best move to saving your dog from choking is to prevent choking in the first place.

How To Prevent Your Dog From Choking

Sometimes dogs are super goofy, they love to try everything, to have a bit of everything, and to explore every unknown corner of the world.

In some way, they are very similar to small children or even babies when they are puppies.

While puppies are interested in everything, and they want to know what everything around them is – this is also the period when the majority of accidents happen, both in small children, babies, and puppies.

If you don’t pay enough attention, you can see them chewing a lamp or eating an armchair, especially if they are losing their baby teeth. They explore, and while doing so, the risk of choking or ingesting something they shouldn’t is high.

Be careful of the toys and chews that you give to your puppy. Make sure that the toy’s size is the appropriate size for your dog’s weight, breed, and chew strength.

Bear in mind that everything that is too small can be easily swallowed. Also, don’t leave your dog (especially puppy) alone with toys and chew treats.

Small items can instantly become choking hazards even if they are appropriate to your dog’s size. Always use safe products, and toys specially designed for dogs.

For extra safety, choose toys and chew treats that are securely clamping onto the end of the stick as your pup chews it down. These types of products will keep your pet safe and give you peace of mind.

Taking Care of Your Dog After Choking

Seeing your dog choking is horrible to experience. Still, in those moments of horror, you need to stay cool and react. A matter of seconds can save your dog’s life.

When a dog chokes, contact a veterinarian immediately, especially if your dog was unconscious – even for a matter of seconds. To prevent any potential choking situations, make sure that you keep your eye on potential choking hazards.

Use dog’s food that’s recommended for your dog’s size – you don’t want to feed a small size dog such as Pomeranian with food specially designed for Great Dane and so on. If you do so, you are risking potential choking.

Be careful about other potential choking hazards in your dog’s surroundings, such as baby and child toys.

When choosing dog toys make sure that they are sturdy and made from dog-safe materials, so that pieces won’t break off easily and end up in your dog’s throat.

The Bottom Line

A choking dog is a scary thing. Still, unplanned things happen and as a pet owner, you need to be prepared for the worst situations.

Recognizing specific signs and being prepared with the knowledge of what you can do if your dog is choking is everything. Only with the right knowledge, you can keep your dog safe and healthy.