Cart
Your cart is currently empty.
How to Help a Choking Dog: Help Save a Life - PawSafe

How to Help a Choking Dog: Help Save a Life

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how to help a choking dog

When a dog is choking, it can be a scary and stressful situation for both the dog and their owner. Knowing how to help a choking dog can make all the difference in getting them the help they need quickly and effectively. 

Choking in dogs can happen for various reasons, such as swallowing something they shouldn’t have. You’d be surprised to know that traditional collars can also cause a dog to choke, especially tiny breeds, so consider swapping to a well-sized dog harness.

In this article, we will provide step-by-step instructions on how to recognize when a dog is choking and what you can do to help. We have consulted expert sources like Sandra Perry’s Guide to Relieving a Choking Dog for a complete dog choking manual.

Dog lovers may encounter a dreadful situation where a dog chokes. It may be their own dog or someone else’s that they desperately need to see. No matter the case, choking is a daily common situation to find yourself in.

It’s also possible to find pet choking hazards all around your home. It can be something as simple as chicken bones (which dogs should never eat). Or it can be something they can eat, like meatballs or tiny blocks of cheese, but they get unlucky.

Here is a pretty accurate visual representation of how to help a choking dog:

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to choking. Keep small objects, bones, and toys out of your dog’s reach, and always supervise them during mealtime. By taking these steps, you can help keep your dog safe and healthy.

Related posts:

Recognizing Signs of Choking

Choking is a severe medical emergency that can be fatal if not treated promptly. Pet owners need to know the signs of choking to act quickly to help their pets. The first and most common sign of choking in dogs is coughing like they have something stuck.

Here are some other  signs that your dog may be choking:

  • Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing, resulting in a wheezing sound;
  • A clear state of panic;
  • Pawing at the mouth or throat;
  • Gagging or retching (also known as dry heaving);
  • Blue or pale gums and tongue;
  • Collapsing or losing consciousness; and
  • Some dogs may even froth and foam in the mouth.

Related:

Why is my dog foaming at the mouth?

Why is my dog wheezing?

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to act quickly to help your dog.

Immediate Actions to Take If Your Dog is Choking

If a dog is choking, immediate action is required to prevent suffocation. Here are the steps to take:

1. Assess the Situation

Quickly determine if the dog is indeed choking. Signs of choking include gagging, coughing, difficulty breathing, and pawing at the mouth. If the dog cannot breathe, it may turn blue, and immediate action is required.

2. Restrain the Dog

If the dog is panicking, it is essential to restrain it to prevent further injury. Hold the dog’s head and neck still with one hand and use the other to remove any visible objects from the mouth.

3. Check the mouth

Pull out any object you can see clearly. Try not to swirl your finger around for the object to prevent further choking. You can also face their head downwards and gently shake it while hitting the back of the neck.

4. Perform the Heimlich Maneuver

If the dog is still choking, perform the Heimlich maneuver. Stand behind the dog and place your hands just below the ribcage. Apply firm pressure with your hands in an upward motion (more like semi-circular). Repeat this motion about five times or until the object dislodges. You can also follow up by lifting the feet for gravity to help dislodge the object. 

5. Place them on the side

Thrust in a swift but firm motion if the object hasn’t come out yet.

6. Check the Dog’s Mouth

After the object is dislodged, check the dog’s mouth to ensure there are no remaining objects. If there are, remove them carefully.

7. Monitor the Dog

After the choking incident, monitor the dog for any signs of distress. If the dog appears to be in pain, take it to the vet immediately.

Choking is a fast-paced situation, so it’s important to see this real-time video of how this man handled a choking incident. 

Remember, it is important to act quickly but calmly when a dog is choking to prevent suffocation. By following these steps, you can help your dog in an emergency situation.

Please note that these techniques apply only to conscious dogs. If our dog is unconscious, you’ll need to perform CPR. 

Here, you’ll need to place your dog on the side, with the left up. With locked elbows, compress the middle of their chest ⅓ to ½ way down at 100 to 120 compressions per minute. After about 30 compressions, close your dog’s muzzle, cover their nose with your mouth, and give them 2 quick breaths, then repeat.

How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on Dogs

Positioning Your Dog

Performing the Heimlich maneuver on a dog requires proper positioning to ensure the dog’s safety and the effectiveness of the procedure. Here are the steps to position your dog:

  1. Stand behind your dog and place your arms around their waist.
  2. Make a fist with one hand and place it on your dog’s abdomen, just below their ribcage.
  3. Place your other hand over your fist and press firmly into your dog’s abdomen.
  4. Lift your dog’s hind legs so that they are off the ground and their weight is supported by your other arm. You can also perform the technique when they’re on all fours.

Performing the Procedure

Once you have properly positioned your dog, you can perform the Heimlich maneuver. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Apply firm and quick pressure to your dog’s abdomen with your fist and hand in a forward and upward motion.
  2. Repeat this motion several times until the object causing the choking is dislodged.
  3. If the choking persists, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

It is important to note that the Heimlich maneuver should only be performed on dogs that are conscious and choking. If your dog is unconscious or not choking, other procedures should be followed like CPR. 

Additionally, it is crucial to seek veterinary assistance after performing the Heimlich maneuver to ensure no underlying health issues caused the choking.

When to Seek Veterinary Help

If a dog is choking and the Heimlich maneuver or back blows do not work, it is essential to seek veterinary help immediately. If the dog is coughing and seems to be breathing normally but still appears to be in distress, it is also essential to seek veterinary help.

In addition, if the dog has swallowed a foreign object and is showing signs of discomfort or distress, it is crucial to seek veterinary help. Signs of a foreign object include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

It is also essential to seek veterinary help if the dog exhibits any other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, blue tongue or gums, or loss of consciousness. These symptoms can be signs of a more serious condition and require immediate attention from a veterinarian.

If the dog has a history of choking or has a condition that makes it more prone to choking, such as a small trachea or an elongated soft palate, it is important to seek veterinary help as soon as possible if it begins to choke.

Preventing Choking in Dogs

Choking is a serious issue that can happen to any dog, regardless of their breed or size. Dog owners need to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of choking. Here are some tips to help prevent choking in dogs:

Choosing Appropriate Toys

When selecting toys for your dog, it is crucial to choose appropriate toys for their size and chewing behavior. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Avoid toys that are too small or too large for your dog’s size.
  • Choose toys made of durable materials, such as rubber or nylon.
  • Avoid toys that can easily break apart or have small pieces that can be swallowed.
  • Discard toys that are worn out or damaged.

Proper Feeding Practices

Proper feeding practices can also help reduce the risk of choking in dogs. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Feed your dog in a calm and quiet environment to reduce the risk of them eating too quickly.
  • Avoid feeding your dog bones, as they can easily splinter and cause choking.
  • Cut up food into small pieces to make it easier for your dog to chew and swallow.
  • Use slow feeders or puzzle toys to slow down your dog’s eating pace.

By following these tips, dog owners can help reduce the risk of choking and keep their furry friends safe.

How to boil chicken bones for dogs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the signs of a dog choking on food?

The signs of a dog choking on food include coughing, gagging, wheezing, difficulty breathing, pawing at the mouth, and drooling. If the dog is unable to breathe, it may also become unconscious.

How can you tell if a dog is choking or coughing?

Coughing is way more short-lived, and the dog, though uncomfortable, is not distressed. However, if the dog is choking, it will have difficulty breathing and may make choking sounds with evident distress.

What does it look like when a dog is choking?

When a dog is choking, it may have its mouth open, paw at its mouth, and drool excessively. The dog may also have difficulty breathing and may make choking sounds.

What should you do if your dog is choking and falls over?

If your dog is choking and falls over, you should carefully lay the dog on its side and check its airway. If the airway is blocked, you should attempt to remove the blockage. Next, follow up with quick but deep thrusts to the widest point of the ribcage.

Can dogs choke to death?

Yes, dogs can choke to death if the foreign object is not removed from their throat in time.

How do you dislodge something from a dog’s throat?

To dislodge something from a dog’s throat, you should first try to remove it with your fingers. If that doesn’t work, you can perform the Heimlich maneuver by placing your hands on the dog’s abdomen and applying pressure. If the dog is still choking, you should take it to the vet immediately or call for help.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to help a choking dog could save your pet’s life. The first step is to remain calm and assess the situation. If the dog is coughing or gagging, try hitting their back and the back of their neck. If that doesn’t work, perform the Heimlich maneuver or back blows. If the dog loses consciousness, perform CPR.

Meet Your Experts

Avatar of author

Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.