How to handle a pet choking emergency
Choking is a very common emergency for pets. It can happen to any dog or cat, and it's essential to know how to identify and treat it as soon as possible.
Signs a Dog Is Choking
Choking can occur when your pet eats something too large for its throat or esophagus. This can result in obstruction of the airway to the lungs. If you notice any of the following signs, your pet may be choking:
- Distress (crying, yowling, or making other distressed noises)
- Persistent gurgling and choking sound. A dog choking will make a series of noises that sound like he's trying to cough up something but can't quite make it happen: He might sound like he's trying to clear his throat by taking short breaths with his tongue sticking out slightly.
- Pawing at the mouth and head: Your fur baby might also paw at his mouth while making these sounds; this action indicates pain caused by the foreign body lodged in his esophagus and trachea area (the tube connecting the mouth to the lungs).
- They are rubbing their face against the ground.
- Excessive salivation
What you can do in case of a pet choking emergency
Remove The Object if Possible: Restrain your pet or get a second person to hold your pet still as they may be panicked and in distress, making their movements erratic. If you can see the object, use your fingers or tweezers to locate and clear the food or foreign object from your pet's throat.
Try The Heimlich maneuver: The Heimlich maneuver is performed by placing one hand around your pet's belly and the other under the rib cage, then thrusting upward and forward behind the rib cage. This can dislodge an object in your pet's throat or esophagus, which will allow them to breathe more easily and potentially save their life.
Perform CPR if the pet loses pulse: If you cannot remove the object from your pet's throat or they lose consciousness while choking, perform chest compressions on them until emergency personnel arrives.
How To Prevent Your Dog From Choking
Here are some tips to help keep your pet from choking:
- Get rid of potential choking hazards. Many types of non-food items can pose a choking hazard to your pet—from small toys to chewable treats.
- Monitor the size of pieces of food. If you're preparing food for your pet, ensure they don't eat anything too large.
- Avoid small toys that could be choking hazards. If you have small children who play with toys around your pets, ensure those toys are large enough not to cause problems if swallowed accidentally (or intentionally).
In short, the best way to prevent a dog from choking is to be aware of what he's doing and keep an eye on him when you believe he may try to swallow something. It's essential to set up your home to prevent access to potential choking hazards for your dog—and if you have young children, educate them about what not to feed the dog. If necessary, consider taking a pet first aid course to learn more about what you can do.
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