Swallowing a foreign object can be very dangerous for dogs and may require immediate action. Knowing what to do if your dog has something in its throat is one of the important things you need to know as a responsible dog owner. Esophageal obstruction in dogs is quite common and requires treatment. Below we discuss some of the first aid options available to treat your dog if he is choking. We will also discuss how to tell if your dog is choking, how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a dog, and how to prevent your dog from choking again in the future.
How can you tell if your dog is choking?
Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether your dog is choking or just coughing. However, there are several signs you should look for to determine what may be causing your dog to be in distress. If your dog is actually choking, he is likely showing signs of extreme anxiety, such as excessive drooling or clawing at his mouth. If the object stuck in your dog’s throat is restricting breathing, you may also notice that your dog is coughing and has blue-colored skin. If your dog is not treated, he will suffocate. If you think your dog is having trouble breathing, call the vet line and take your dog to the vet immediately.
Common signs your dog is choking:
- Gag reflex
- Swallowing repeatedly
- Paw to the mouth
- Paw to the throat
What should you do if your dog is choking?
If you determine that your dog is actually choking, quick action is a must to prevent long-term injury or death. Acting quickly is especially important if your dog is having trouble breathing due to the esophageal obstruction. If you think your dog is having trouble breathing, contact your vet immediately and seek emergency veterinary care.
There are some measures you can take in the meantime to help your dog dislodge the object causing the esophageal obstruction. Is there a Heimlich maneuver for dogs? You can try the Heimlich maneuver on your dog, but you should still continue looking for a vet. Before trying the Heimlich maneuver, restrain your dog first because he could potentially bite someone if he panics. Second, you should remove anything wrapped around the dog’s neck, such as a collar or leash. Third, look into the dog’s mouth and determine if the object is visible to you.
If you can see the object, you can try using large tweezers to remove it from the dog’s throat. However, you must be extremely careful not to push the object further down the dog’s throat. If you are unable to retrieve the object and your dog is having difficulty breathing, you can administer the Heimlich Maneuver to your dog.
How to perform the Heimlich maneuver on dogs
If other removal options have not worked or the object is stuck in the dog’s throat, you can use a variation of the Heimlich maneuver for dogs. The Heimlich maneuver for dogs is very similar to the Heimlich maneuver used to help someone who is choking. When it comes to the Heimlich Maneuver for dogs, there are differences depending on the size of the dog.
If your dog is small enough to pick up, hold the dog against your stomach with its head up and paws pointed down. Then find the hollow part under the dog’s ribs. Close your fist and raise up and toward yourself two to three times.
If your dog is too large to hold, place the dog on its side and kneel near the dog’s back, away from its paws. As with the small dog version, make a fist and place it in the hollow area under the dog’s ribcage. Push up and in toward your knees and the dog’s head. Repeat this two to three times.
The Heimlich maneuver for dogs should only be attempted if it is an emergency. This life-saving technique can cause serious damage to the dog’s chest and chest cavity. If you administer the Heimlich Maneuver to your dog, the dog should be seen by a veterinarian afterwards to make sure everything is fine.
Often the Heimlich maneuver can remove the object stuck in the dog’s throat and restore proper breathing. Even if you manage to remove the object from the dog’s throat, seek medical attention immediately.
Treatment for foreign objects in your dog’s throat
If you or the vet are unable to remove the object with the above methods, the vet may need to perform surgery to remove the object. The invasiveness of the surgery will depend on where the object is located in the dog’s throat. If your dog is having trouble breathing, the vet will likely perform a tracheotomy. A tracheotomy is a procedure in which a breathing tube is placed in the neck and then into the airways. This procedure bypasses the object choking your dog and restores proper airflow until the object is removed.
Next, the vet will likely take an X-ray of the dog to determine the exact location of the obstruction. Depending on the location of the object, the vet will recommend different surgical procedures to remove it.
How to prevent your dog from choking
One of the best ways to prevent your dog from choking is to implement preventive techniques. This way you can avoid the panic that arises when your furry friend is in distress and save yourself a trip to the vet.
One simple thing you can do to prevent your dog from choking is to avoid leaving small objects lying around your home. Keep small objects out of your dog’s reach. Small objects pose a very easy choking hazard and should always be kept away from your dog; they can easily become foreign bodies that cause your dog to choke.
Be careful when it comes to feeding your dog. There are certain foods that are particularly dangerous for dogs and pose a high risk of choking. For example, you should never feed your dog cooked bones. Cooked bones can chip and shatter very easily, which can cause them to get stuck in your dog’s throat. If your dog swallows pieces of bones, they can cause damage to the dog’s internal organs and intestines due to their sharp edges. In addition, you should avoid feeding your dog food in large quantities or large pieces. This is harder for the dog to chew and can cause food to get stuck in the dog’s throat.
Why does my dog keep coughing?
Have you noticed that your dog keeps coughing, but there is nothing in the dog’s throat? The cause of your dog’s cough could come from somewhere else. There are several diseases and viruses that dogs can contract that cause breathing problems and coughing, making the dog appear as if they are choking. Some common diseases that resemble choking include:
Common diseases that cause coughing in dogs
Distemper: Distemper is an extremely contagious disease in dogs. The good news is that there is a vaccination to prevent distemper; That is why it is important that your dog receives regular veterinary checks. This inflammatory disease is a viral infection that is much more serious than the common cold in dogs. A common symptom, along with coughing and gagging, is water drainage from the dog’s eyes. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet immediately as this disease can be fatal if not treated quickly.
Kennel cough: Kennel cough is another highly contagious respiratory disease that spreads among dogs. Coughing is the main symptom of kennel cough. It is often passed by dogs that are close together; hence the name kennel cough. The common symptom in dogs with kennel cough is a cough that sounds like the dog is choking on something.
Heart disease: When it comes to heart disease in dogs, there are many symptoms that may be present. One of the most common symptoms is excessive coughing. If you think your dog is suffering from heart disease, seek veterinary attention immediately to prevent premature death and deterioration.
Cold or flu: Just like people, dogs can also suffer from colds or flu. Although this infection is different from that in humans, the symptoms are very similar. If your dog has a cold or flu, he will likely have a runny nose, constant sneezing, persistent coughing, and shaking. The vet may prescribe your dog a cough medicine depending on whether it is a productive cough or not. Cough suppressants can help your dog relax and prevent additional stress.
Care for your dog after choking
It may take several days and even a few weeks for the lining of your dog’s throat to fully recover from a choking incident due to foreign objects. Your vet may recommend feeding your dog a soft food diet until the throat heals completely. Keep in mind that even if you are able to dislodge the object, your dog should still be seen by a veterinarian immediately to gauge the degree of trauma to the dog’s esophagus and airways. If your dog is choking, it is extremely important to locate the nearest animal hospital for immediate treatment.
Additionally, your vet may prescribe your dog antibiotics to prevent respiratory infections from developing due to open wounds. A bacterial infection can be very dangerous and cause additional problems in the dog’s respiratory tract. A thorough physical examination is necessary to determine the extent of damage caused by the esophageal airway obstruction. You may want to consider changing your dog’s diet. There are many benefits to switching from kibble to raw food.
So, to answer the question of what to do if your dog is choking, you should seek veterinary help to avoid serious complications. The veterinarian can look for other clinical signs and develop a recommended treatment plan. This will help prevent an upper respiratory infection from developing and other medical and respiratory conditions from developing later.
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