What Can you Do if your Dog is Choking on Food?

dog on the couch

Dogs have a reputation for their willingness to chew just about anything that comes heir way, whether it is edible or not! Unfortunately, not all food items are safe for your furbaby to get their jaws round. Some might be too small for her to chew on properly, and they may slip down her throat and become lodged in her airway. Other foods might come apart while being chewed, creating smaller pieces that pose a choking hazard.

Choking may be a very common problem affecting our canine companions but knowing what to do and how to react is very important if your pet is to make a full recovery from the incident. The more you know about how you can help your pet, the calmer and more prepared you will be.

How do I know if my pet is choking?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not always obvious is a pet is choking. If your dog is making sounds while choking, this is a good thing as it shows that your dog’s airway is only partially blocked, and this means that at least some air is getting through. However, some dogs don’t make any noise at all when they are choking. Instead, you might see your furbaby making retching motions, pacing quickly back and forth and pawing at her mouth. You may see his chest rapidly heaving, despite the fact that he doesn’t appear to be breathing.

Check her mouth

The very thing you should do is check your dog’s mouth to see if you can see what is causing her to choke. You may need to pull her tongue forward to get a good look at the back of her throat. If you can see the piece of food causing the blockage and can safely pull it out then you should do so, but take extra care not to push it further down her airway. The blockage may be wet and slippery and very difficult to get hold of, but never use a tool to try and get the food out. This could cause damage to her mouth, throat or airway, and if you drop it down her throat, you will block her airway further.

If you can’t see the piece of food blocking her airway, or are unable to remove it, you should first try striking her hard between the shoulder blades with the flat part of your hand. This may force the blockage out. However, if this is not working, you will need to perform an action called the canine Heimlich maneuver which should dislodge it.

The canine Heimlich maneuver

Most owners find it easier to do this action on a larger dog. Stand behind your dog and place your arms around her body. If you have a smaller dog, you may need to hold her with her head up so that her spine is against your chest for support. Make a first with one hand, and the place that thumb against your dog’s abdomen at the point where her sternum ends. Using your other hand, take hold of your fist and very quickly and forcefully push upwards and forwards towards her shoulders.

You should repeat this action four or five times before checking her airway again. If she is still choking, you will need to start the process over again. If your dog has become unconscious, you should clear her airway and perform rescue breathing.

Once your dog is breathing again, get your canine pal to our veterinarian for a thorough check up to ensure there are no lasting effects from the incident.

If you would like further advice about what to do if your dog is choking, contact us and speak to our veterinarian. Many veterinary offices and animal shelters run basic first aid classes that including training for incidents such as burns, poisoning and choking. Taking the time to learn what to do could save your pet’s life.

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8017 N. University Dr
Parkland, FL 33067

Fax: 954-757-3990
EMAIL US: Parklandanimalclinic@gmail.com