If you are a dog owner, you know that dogs love to put things in their mouth. They are constantly licking, biting, and chewing on anything they can get their paws on. Although this is typical dog behavior, it gives many owners a great deal of anxiety.
Doggy first-aid is an essential skill for any pet owner, and this article will give you everything you need to know to help out your furry friend. By the end of this article, you will know the answer to the question: How do you help a choking dog?
Keep reading to discover all the signs of a dog choking, plus the steps you can take. Finally, you will also learn the most common reasons dogs get strangled so you can protect your beloved pet.
Before you scroll down to a more in-depth answer to this question, “Is Your Dog at Risk of Being Strangled?,” check out these articles: Can Peanut Butter Make My Dog Constipated? and Why is My Dog Scared All of a Sudden?
Signs Your Dog Is Choking
If you are worried about keeping your dog safe from strangulation, the first step is to know the signs of a choking dog.
If your dog is having difficulty breathing, making a gasping noise, or pawing at its mouth, it may be choking.
If you see these signs, do not panic. Your dog may just be coughing. Before rushing your dog to the vet, take a deep breath and follow the steps below.
How To Help a Choking Dog
Follow these steps carefully to help your dog. Following these steps could be the difference between life and death if your dog is strangled.
1. Identify if Your Dog Is Choking or Just Coughing
First, you must determine if your dog is choking or coughing. If your dog is making a gagging noise and pawing at its mouth, they are probably choking.
If your dog is having trouble breathing, making a gasping noise, or their tongue is turning blue, they are choking, and you need to provide immediate assistance.
On the other hand, if your dog is making a hacking noise and there is no obstruction visible in its mouth, they are probably just coughing. If your dog is coughing, let them be. Do not try to help, as you could worsen the situation.
If your dog is choking, follow the steps below.
2. Look Down Your Dog’s Throat
If you believe your dog is choking, the first step is to open their mouth and look down their throat. Before attempting to do this, you must remain calm.
If you are feeling anxious, your dog will sense this and could become agitated. If your dog becomes agitated, they could panic. If your dog panics, it may begin to struggle, making the choking worse. Additionally, your dog might bite you if it feels anxious.
To keep your dog calm, follow these steps:
First, place one hand on the back of your dog’s head and the other on their chin. Gently lift your dog’s chin until you can see their throat.
While lifting your dog’s throat, talk calmly to them and reassure them that everything will be alright. Your calm demeanor and words will help keep your dog calm.
Once your dog’s mouth is open, look down their throat. It may be helpful to have someone else with a flashlight so you can see more clearly.
If your dog is choking on a foreign object, you might be able to see it. Under no circumstances should you try to remove the object from your dog’s throat. Putting your fingers and hands down your dog’s throat can potentially make the situation worse.
If you can see the object, immediately skip to step four.
3. Check Their Mouth
Check your dog’s mouth if you cannot see anything in its throat.
Open your dog’s mouth and look for any foreign objects. If you locate an object, try to remove it with your fingers.
If you cannot remove the object with your fingers, do not try to use any other tools, as this could push the object further down the throat. Rather, take your dog to the vet immediately.
4. How To Help if There Is an Object Stuck in Your Dog’s Throat
If you locate an object in your dog’s throat, you should not try to use your hands to remove it. However, there are some other methods you can use to help your dog.
- If your dog is small, pick them up and hold them upside down. Gently shake your dog in an up and down motion, while supporting their body.
- If your dog is too large to pick up, pick up their hind legs and hold them like a wheelbarrow. If you need to lift them off the ground, wrap your arms around their hips and lift them.
- If neither method works, you can perform the Heimlich Maneuver on your dog.
To do this, stand behind your dog and wrap your arms around their waist. Make a fist with one hand and place it above the dog’s navel. Grab your fist with your other hand and pull sharply upwards.
You should perform five abdominal thrusts before rechecking your dog’s mouth.
Once you have removed the object from your dog’s throat, your dog should begin breathing again normally. Your dog will likely be exhausted and scared, so try to stay as calm as possible.
Performing CPR on an Unconscious Dog
If your dog is unconscious, you will need to perform CPR. CPR can be difficult, so ensure you are familiar with the steps before an emergency arises.
To begin, check if your dog has a pulse. You can do this by feeling a pulse inside your dog’s hind leg.
If you cannot feel a pulse, begin CPR.
To perform CPR on your dog, follow these steps:
- Place your dog on their right side on a level surface.
- Extend your dog’s head and neck forward, so the tongue does not block the airway.
- Place your hand over your dog’s nostrils and give two rescue breaths. Each breath should last one second, and you should see the dog’s chest rise.
- Place your dog’s right elbow on the ground and put your left hand over the dog’s chest.
- Use your right hand to grasp your left wrist and compress the dog’s chest to about one-third to one-half the depth of the chest cavity.
- Give 30 compressions and then give two rescue breaths.
- Repeat these steps until your dog starts breathing on its own or until emergency help arrives.
5. Go to the Vet
You should bring them to the vet regardless of the outcome.
Even if your dog seems fine, there could be potential internal damage that only a professional can identify. It is always better to be safe than sorry about your dog’s health.
Common Causes of Choking for Dogs
Now that you know what to do if your dog is being strangled, you can take care of them in a worst-case scenario. However, the best way to avoid this is to be proactive and practice preventative care.
These are the most common causes of choking for dogs. You can take steps to minimize them and keep your dog safe.
The most common choking hazard for dogs is foreign objects. Dogs are curious creatures and will put just about anything in their mouth.
As a dog owner, you are responsible for keeping an eye on your dog and removing any potential choking hazards from its environment.
Choking hazards include things like small toys, pieces of food, bones, and anything else your dog could potentially choke on. If unsure if an object is safe for your dog, err on the side of caution and remove it.
Disease or Illness
Certain diseases and illnesses can cause a dog to choke. For example, if your dog has Kennel Cough, it could lead to inflammation of the throat and trachea. The inflammation can make it difficult for your dog to breathe and result in choking.
Other diseases that can cause choking include:
- Laryngeal paralysis
- Heart disease
If your dog has any diseases or illnesses, it is crucial to work with your veterinarian to create a care plan. A care plan will help minimize the risk of choking.
Another common cause of choking is obesity. Overweight dogs are more likely to choke because they have extra tissue in their throat. The excess tissue can make it difficult for them to breathe and increase the risk of choking.
If your dog is obese, you should work with your veterinarian to create a weight loss plan. A weight loss plan will help minimize the risk of choking and improve your dog’s overall health.
A Collapsed Trachea
A collapsed trachea is a condition that affects the cartilage surrounding the trachea. This condition can cause the trachea to collapse, making it difficult for your dog to breathe.
A collapsed trachea is particularly common in small dog breeds as they age. Over time, the trachea will become weak and eventually collapse.
However, before it completely collapses, your dog will begin to cough and choke. If you notice these symptoms, bring your dog to the vet immediately.
Asthma is another condition that can cause your dog to choke. In severe cases, asthma can make breathing difficult for your dog and lead to choking.
If you think your dog has asthma, your dog’s vet can give you medication to manage the illness.
The Wrong Collar
Can you strangle a dog with an ill-sized collar? Yes. Inappropriate use of a collar or harness can result in accidental strangulation. The impact of the wrong collar is most severe for small dog breeds with delicate necks.
If a dog’s collar is too tight, it can cut off the dog’s air supply and cause choking. A tight collar is especially dangerous if the dog pulls on the leash, as it will tighten the collar.
It is vital to regularly check your dog’s collar to ensure it is not too tight. You should be able to slip two fingers underneath the collar with ease. If you notice your dog’s collar is getting tighter, adjust it or buy a new one.
You should also avoid using a choke chain or prong collar on your dog. These collars can cause serious injuries, including choking if misused.
If you must use a collar on your dog, opt for a regular flat-buckle collar or a harness to avoid having your dog strangled by a collar.
Conclusion For “Is Your Dog at Risk of Being Strangled”
Choking and strangulation are severe problems for dogs and can even be fatal. As a dog owner, it is vital to be aware of the signs of choking and what you can do to help your dog.
You can also prevent choking and having your dog get strangled by removing potential hazards from your dog’s environment and monitoring your dog’s health. Talk to your vet if you are concerned about your dog’s risk of choking.
If you find this guide, “Is Your Dog at Risk of Being Strangled,” helpful, you can check out these other dog-related questions answered by our team at We Love Doodles:
- Why Does My Dog Lick My Hair?
- Why Does My Dog Bite My Cat’s Neck?
- My Dog is Scared of Me Because I Beat Him
In case of your dog choking check out this video “How to Help a Choking Dog” down below:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
Why Trust We Love Doodles?
At We Love Doodles, we’re a team of writers, veterinarians, and puppy trainers that love dogs. Our team of qualified experts researches and provides reliable information on a wide range of dog topics. Our reviews are based on customer feedback, hands-on testing, and in-depth analysis. We are fully transparent and honest to our community of dog owners and future owners.