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  • Writer's pictureMeaghan Davenport

What to Do if Your Dog is Choking

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

What would you do if your dog started choking?

My reaction was put to the test a few months ago when Finnagan, my Golden-doodle, became overly enthusiastic about a piece of a raw-hide bone he had attempted to consume all in one mouthful. When I saw him bend forward with his mouth open, straining to cough up the food, I thought my heart would stop. He couldn't cough, though. He was unable to vomit. He began pawing at his face, and I sensed his anxiety and panic. Fortunately, I understood what to do and was able to get the food out while he was still conscious by reaching my hand in and pulling the bone out from his throat.

Large bits of food, bones, balls, toys and other household things can strangle dogs. Because an emergency may come in the blink of an eye, it's critical to be prepared (and hope you never have to use it).

Choking Warning Signs in Your Dog

The warning symptoms of a foreign item blocking your dog's airway are similar to those of a choking human:

  • In an attempt to remove the item, he/she opens his lips and lunges forward.

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Pawing at the face

  • Panicking

What Should You Do If Your Dog Chokes?

Maintain a calm disposition to keep your dog as relaxed as possible. If you start stressing out, your dog will as well, which will just add to the chaos.

Open your dog's mouth with both hands and look for a foreign item.

Option I

If you detect anything lodged in your dog's throat and are convinced that your dog will not attack you, try to remove it cautiously. With your finger or a big clean pair of tweezers, gently remove the object. Make sure you don't force the thing down your dog's throat.

Option II

Grab your dog's hips and suspend him in the air with his head toward the floor if you can't remove the object with your hands. For little dogs, try this: Take a firm grasp on his upper thigh/hip area, hoist him into the air, and shake him down many times. If your dog is too big to carry into the air, simply pick him up by his rear legs like a wheelbarrow.

Option III

If the item does not dislodge, the Heimlich technique should be used. Wrap both hands around your dog’s abdominal area. With one hand, make a fist and position it right under the rib cage. Push up with your other hand on top of the item with enough power to remove it (do this up to 5 times).

Reopen your dog's mouth and search for something strange. If you notice the object, try scooping it out with your fingers in your dog's mouth. Again use caution to make sure not to force the thing down your dog's throat any deeper.

If the object does not dislodge after a few minutes, contact your veterinarian immediately.

You may need to do CPR if your dog becomes unconscious and you are eventually able to remove the foreign item (either with your fingers or tweezers).

Pay A Visit To The Vet

Even if you can remove the foreign item on your own, it is still a good idea to seek veterinarian help following the occurrence. Your veterinarian will examine your dog's throat to see if there is any damage or if any more medical attention is required.


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