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Helping a Choking Dog: First Aid Tips

Helping a Choking Dog: First Aid Tips

Keeping Calm and Clearing the Airway

As a proud dog parent, one of my biggest fears is the unthinkable: my furry companion choking. It’s an emergency situation no one wants to face, but with the right knowledge and quick action, you can potentially save your pup’s life.

I’ll never forget the day my pug, Milo, started frantically pawing at his mouth and gasping for air. My heart raced as I realized he was choking on a piece of his kibble. In that moment, I was so grateful I had read up on first aid for dogs, because I knew exactly what to do.

Choking is terrifyingly common in our curious canine companions. Dogs love to explore the world with their mouths, chewing on everything from toys to socks. And when they gulp down their meals a little too enthusiastically, that’s a recipe for disaster. So it’s crucial that we, as responsible dog owners, are prepared to act fast if our pups ever find themselves in this life-threatening situation.

The first step is to stay as calm as possible. I know, easier said than done when your beloved pet is struggling to breathe. But panicking will only make the situation worse. Take a deep breath, and remind yourself that with the right techniques, you can dislodge that obstruction and get your dog breathing normally again.

Identifying a Choking Dog

Choking occurs when something – whether it’s a treat, a piece of toy, or even food – becomes stuck in the back of your dog’s throat, blocking their airway. If the obstruction is partial, you may notice your pup retching, pacing, and pawing at their mouth, desperately trying to clear it. But if the airway is completely blocked, they won’t be able to make any sound at all.

Time is of the essence here, so it’s crucial to act quickly. The American Veterinary Medical Association advises that if you can’t dislodge the object within a couple of minutes, you need to get your dog to the vet immediately. Waiting any longer could be the difference between life and death.

Performing the Heimlich Maneuver

If you can see the obstruction in the back of your dog’s throat, you can try to remove it with your fingers. But be extremely careful not to push it further down. The last thing you want to do is make the situation worse.

For smaller dogs, like my pug Milo, the recommended technique is to pick them up by the thighs, with their head lower than their body. Then, give them a few gentle shakes downwards. This can sometimes dislodge the object.

If that doesn’t work, it’s time to try the Heimlich maneuver. For puppies and small dogs, that means placing them on their side, finding the soft spot under their rib cage, and giving a sharp upward thrust. On larger dogs, you’ll want to lay them on their side, kneel behind them, and use your closed fist to deliver those upward abdominal thrusts.

The key is to be firm but not too forceful. You don’t want to risk injuring your pup further. And remember, they’re likely scared and in distress, so they may try to bite. It’s a good idea to have someone help hold them still.

Restoring Breathing and Seeking Veterinary Care

If the object still isn’t budging, it’s time to move on to rescue breaths and chest compressions. Tilt your dog’s head back, pinch their nose, and give two quick breaths. Then, place the heel of your hand on their chest and start compressions at a rate of about 120 per minute.

Keep alternating between breaths and compressions until your dog starts breathing on their own or you can get them to the vet. And even if you do manage to dislodge the obstruction, it’s crucial to have your pup examined. There could be damage to their mouth, throat, or internal organs that needs treatment.

The team at strongly recommends taking a pet first aid course so you’re prepared for emergencies like this. But in the meantime, remember: stay calm, clear the airway, and get your furry friend to the vet as soon as possible. With quick action, you just might save their life.

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