We should prepare for responding to emergencies for our family members, and that preparation should also extend to our pets. Approximately 44% of US households have at least one dog, yet many of us may not know how to respond when they need us most. National Animal Safety and Protection Month (October) gives us a chance to highlight some of the basics of Pet First Aid for man’s best friend.
What do I do if my dog is choking?
Dogs are known for chewing on anything and everything – from bones to toys to shoes and socks. But what happens if an object causes your dog to start choking? The most common choking hazards for dogs are hard rubber balls, chew toys, moisture-swollen sticks, and bones.
If your dog begins choking, you need to provide care immediately rather than waiting for veterinary assistance. Your dog will likely look distressed when choking. He may paw at his mouth (though this may not necessarily mean he is choking) or he may gag, cough or even vomit. If he’s unresponsive, check the throat and mouth for foreign objects.
Use both hands to open the dog’s mouth.
Press the dog’s lips over the dog’s teeth to create a barrier between his teeth and your fingers.
Remember, any dog can bite, so use precaution.
Sweep inside the mouth with your finger to dislodge the object.
If the dog is still choking, give 5 abdominal thrusts.
• If the dog is standing - Stand behind or lift the dog with his spine against your chest. Wrap your arms arounds him under the ribs. Make a fist with one hand, and join your hands together. Push firmly up and forward, just behind his rib cage.
• If the dog is already lying down - Place one hand on his back for support and use your other hand to squeeze the abdomen upwards and forwards toward the spine.
If the object doesn’t come out, suspend the dog by the hips with his head pointing down.
For a large dog, hold his hind legs in the air like a wheelbarrow.
Use your palm to give 5 back slaps between the dog’s shoulder blades.
Repeat 5 abdominal thrusts and 5 back slaps until the object is dislodged.
If your dog becomes unresponsive and isn’t breathing, follow these dog CPR steps based on his size.
Depending on how long your dog was without oxygen and any potential internal damage to the throat, your dog may require hospitalization. Contact your veterinarian for additional assistance.
Pet First Aid Resources
We know pets come in all shapes and sizes, so be sure to research Pet First Aid that applies to your household. There may be Pet First Aid training courses in your community that will allow you to get hands-on training and answer any specific questions you may have. You can also check with your veterinarian for additional resources.
We recommend using PetMD as a reliable online source for guidance on responding to various animal emergencies. There are also many Pet First Aid apps available depending on your device.
For more first aid tips, click here to explore our blog.