What to Do If Your Dog is Choking?

This post explains what to do if your dog is choking. This guide also includes precisely how to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre.

What to Do If Your Dog is Choking?

If your dog has a ball or other object, such as apple chunks,  lodged in his windpipe and has trouble breathing, do the Heimlich manoeuvre immediately. If the Heimlich manoeuvre does not work, rush him to a vet.

Whenever your dog is gasping for breath, cool him down if he is hot, calm him, and immediately transport him to a veterinary hospital.

If your dog can breathe but is pawing at his mouth and shaking his head, he may have something stuck in his mouth. Open his mouth (if you can do so without getting bitten) to remove any objects stuck there. To dislodge an object stuck crosswise against the roof of your dog’s mouth, you may need to push it towards his throat (where the jaw is wider) to dislodge it. Don’t force it down his throat.

If you cannot get the object out, call a vet.

What to do if Your Dog is Choking

 

What to Do If Your Dog is Coughing and Choking?

If your dog is coughing, gagging, or hacking but seems to be getting enough air in and out, he may have a collapsing trachea, a cold or another heart or respiratory ailment. It is not an emergency unless the dog is lethargic and weak, will not eat, or otherwise looks pretty ill. Make an appointment with your veterinarian during office hours.

The Heimlich Manoeuvre

If you know your dog has a piece of food, small ball, toy, or other object stuck in his trachea (windpipe), and he cannot breathe, do the Heimlich manoeuvre immediately.

  • Stand (if he is a tall dog) or kneel (if he is a medium or small dog) behind the dog, with the animal facing away from you.
  • Put your arms around the waist of the dog. Put your fist, thumb side up, on the abdomen of the dog just below his ribs. Wrap your other hand around that fist.
  • Give a fast, hard jerk or squeeze upward towards the backbone of the dog. Apply enough force to move the whole body of the dog. (If he is a tiny dog, place the two knuckles of one hand on the dog’s stomach just below the ribs, then place your hand flat against the back of the dog to help steady him, then give a hard, quick poke upwards with your knuckles.)
  • Give another hard jerk if the object does not come out of the mouth of the dog on the first try. If after three or four jerks the thing has still not come out or the dog still cannot breathe, rush him to the nearest veterinary clinic, where a vet can do a tracheotomy (cut a hole in the windpipe of the dog below the obstruction) and remove the object surgically.

I hope you have now learned what to do if your dog is choking. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave them below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

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