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A dog that is choking doesn’t always cough, make retching sounds or display classic dog choking symptoms. If a choking dog is managing to cough, then it indicates that air is managing to get in and out, so can make the dog choking sound.
In the situation above, you most likely have a dog choking but still breathing (which is clearly an advantage). When the airway is completely blocked, however, you may not even be aware that your dog is choking.
One signal that can alert you to the fact that your dog genuinely can’t breathe is when he is pawing at his face. If you see such behavior, then it may indicate that he has something lodged in his throat.
It is quite common to have a dog choking on rawhide. With our own dog we had this very frequently so we dropped the use of rawhide completely.
We all get to know our dogs pretty well, so you’ll quickly recognize the difference between casual paw movements compared to significant or desperate pawing actions. The pawing movements will be towards the cheeks, and there’ll likely be little or no sound from your dog due to the shortage of air being allowed in or out.
If you do see unusual paw movements around the face, then there are two actions to take immediately:
- If it is safe to do so, open your dogs’ mouth and look for any obvious obstruction in its throat. Use a finger and thumb to remove the blockage. Again, only do this if your dog is not likely to bite you during this process.
- If your dog is unlikely to permit you to open its mouth, then try at least to take a look at your dogs’ gums or tongue. Both the tongue and the gums should be a lovely pink color. If they are a shade of blue, then the chances are that your dog is choking.
For Dog’s Who Will Not Allow Mouth Investigation With Fingers:
Many of us will have heard about the Heimlich Maneuver that is used for humans who are choking, but this method can also be used very effectively on dogs.
The process for administering the Heimlich Maneuver on your dog is the same as for humans.
How To Administer The Heimlich Maneuver On Your Dog
Canine Heimlich Maneuver:
- Get behind your dog, with your dog facing away from you.
- Get down to your knees on the floor and lift the front of your dog up towards your body. Your dogs back should now be against your chest, and your dog should only be standing on its back legs.
- Place both of your arms around your dog and place one fist just beneath your dogs’ ribcage. Use your other hand to hold your fist.
- With a sudden movement, bring your fist and hand inwards and slightly upwards at the same time. In effect, you’ll be squeezing your dog suddenly towards your body.
- Apply common sense regarding how much pressure you exert, depending upon how large or small your dog happens to be.
Despite TV shows and comedy movies showing the obstruction flying across the room after administering the Heimlich Maneuver, this is not how it will be in real life! After you have completed a few moves using the Heimlich Maneuver, you’ll need to check your dogs’ mouth to see if the obstruction has cleared. If not, continue with the Heimlich Maneuver.
If the obstruction has cleared then try to remove the object from your dog’s mouth, but keep your own safety in mind.
Clearing A Partial Blockage From Your Dogs’ Throat
If your dog is making a choking sound or is making a retching sound, then the obstacle may not be too deep in your dogs’ throat. In this situation, you can get behind your dog and lift its back legs in the air so that its front legs are the only legs standing.
Lift your dogs’ back legs up high, and allow gravity to do its thing and clear the blockage that way.
For Dogs That Won’t Allow Fingers In Their Mouths
It is worth having some long kitchen tongs in the house for such situations. I am sure that there is no need to say that care must be taken not to injure your dog’s mouth or throat using such tongs, but at the end of the day, this is a life or death situation. So use the tongs with care – but use them!
How To Help A Choking Dog: Video Duration 3:03
After The Event
Once you have cleared the blockage, it is still highly recommended that your dog is taken to the vet. In most cases, your vet will be happy with your dog’s recovery, but it’s just worth seeing a vet so that a proper throat examination can be conducted.
Below Is An Excellent Infographic That Shows The Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs
I sincerely hope that you’ll never need to use any of these techniques, but if you do need to, then your dog will certainly be grateful that you did.