Animals are incredibly curious creatures. Sniffing an object can only tell your dog so much about what they have encountered, so popping it into their mouth for a taste is the next best option. Unfortunately, it’s not only food items that animals apply this process to. Anything interesting that they come across is likely to be sniffed, licked, and even chewed by your four-legged friend. Many non-food items could pose a hazard to your pet, with the biggest risk being choking.
Hopefully, your pet won’t ever have a situation where you find them choking. It can be very valuable to be able to recognize the signs so that you can take immediate action. Most cats and dogs will display a combination of the following symptoms if they are choking:
Pawing at their mouth
Rubbing their face against the ground
Gagging or retching
High-pitched whistling noise coming from your pet
Gums starting to turn blue
The most important thing is not to panic. Try to keep your fur baby restrained to avoid them from hurting themselves or you.
If you can, try and see inside your pet’s mouth to determine if you can see what they are choking on. If you can see and reach the obstruction, carefully try to remove it. Only do this if you are sure that you won’t force it further down. You will need to be careful of your pet’s teeth, and if they bite you, it won’t be to harm you but due to their panic and fear.
If you aren’t able to see any obstructions or can’t reach them, you should contact your emergency veterinarian straight away.
If you can’t remove the object, your emergency veterinarian will probably recommend that you perform something called the Heimlich Maneuver. This can be used on humans as well as dogs and cats. It involves using pressure to try and force an obstruction out of the airway. Your veterinarian should talk you through what to do. It should include the following steps:
Lay your pet on its side
Hold their back against your stomach. Have their head up and their paws down
Using one hand, find the soft hollow under their ribs (your closed fist should fit into this spot)
Use the hand on your pet’s stomach to pull up and in, two or three times, towards your stomach, using a sharp thrusting movement
If the object doesn’t dislodge this way, and your pet stops breathing and has no pulse, you should start CPR on them right away. Continue until you reach your emergency vet. Aim to do 120 chest compressions per minute. Again, your veterinarian will talk you through what to do.
Even if you manage to stop your pet from choking at home, we strongly advise that you take them in to see your veterinarian for a check-up. This makes sure there is no damage to their airway and no long-term effects.
Preventing choking is always better than reacting if something blocks your pet’s airway. Keep an eye on objects that could be potential choking hazards and monitor your pet when they eat.
For more advice on what to do if your pet is choking and how to avoid choking hazards. Call Waco Animal Emergency Clinic at (254) 752-6100 to reach our office in Waco, Texas.