Choking is a serious, life threatening emergency for a dog so its important that owners know what to do if this scenario should occur. Several years ago I was training dogs with some friends when one of the dogs went to retrieve a ball and it lodged in her throat. The ball was partially blocking her airway but thanks to everyone involved we were able to perform these steps and get her airway cleared in time. Its one of those nights that will forever stick in my mind so I thought it was an excellent topic for discussion.
REMEMBER THAT PREVENTION IS KEY
Before you have a choking emergency with your dog, be sure to go over their toys and remove anything that may be outgrown or chewed into too small of pieces. Just because they haven’t tried to swallow it or had a problem, doesn’t mean that its worth the risk. Make sure all their toys are size-appropriate for your breed.
REVIEW THE HEIMLICH STEPS BELOW
The night my friend’s dog was choking we were lucky that a friend was there who was familiar with the Heimlich maneuver and immediately went to work lifting the dog’s hind legs and doing compressions. We alternated between finger sweeps, compressions, and chest pats until we were finally able to dislodge the ball from the dog’s throat.
There are several great videos on youtube that demonstrate the Heimlich maneuver for dogs, many are only just a few minutes long. Its important to take the time now to familiarize yourself with the Heimlich maneuver now, before its a life and death emergency. You can check those out here.
IF YOU DO HAVE A CHOKING EMERGENCY
Remember – don’t give up! It may take time to get the object out of your dogs throat but keep working at it and get to the emergency vet as soon as possible! If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with where you the nearest emergency vet is to your house *before* you need to rush there. If you are out of town, know where the nearby 24 hour vets are so you can act quickly in an emergency.