Pet first aid: choking

29 May 2020
Allan Grisdale
german sherpherd

Choking is a serious life-threatening problem that needs immediate action.

A choking pet will have difficulty breathing, will make choking sounds, might paw at their mouth and you might see their lips, gums and tongue turning blue.

Common choke risks include balls, rawhide chews and small toys.

Be careful: a choking pet may panic and bite.

How to prevent choking

  • Choose balls and toys that are the correct size for your pet, preferably with holes in.
  • Ask your local veterinary practice for advice if you are unsure.
  • Always supervise your pet when they are playing with toys or eating chew sticks.
  • Don’t throw toys and food to be caught in mid-air, always aim for them to be picked up from the ground.

What to do if your pet is choking

Step one: Is your pet choking?

  • Choking or coughing? Can they breathe? If your pet is coughing, they will still be able to breathe-in, if they are choking, your pet will struggle to breathe at all.
  • Do you know what they could be choking on? Were they just playing with a toy or did they have a chew?
  • Is there anything obvious you can remove from their mouth?

Step two: Try to remove what they are choking on

  • Keep your pet calm.
  • If you can see something in the mouth:
    • Use pliers or tweezers to get hold of it and remove it.
    • Do not stick your fingers in your pet’s mouth if they are conscious, this may make them panic more and could lead to you getting bitten
  • If your pet is unconscious:
    • Open their mouth, gently sweep your fingers across the back of their throat and remove anything that is lodged there.
  • If you can’t remove the object:
    • Lay your pet on their side.
    • Place both hands on the side of your pet’s rib cage.
    • Push quickly and firmly or strike the rib cage with the flat of your hand three to four times.
    • The idea is to push air and the object out of their lungs. Keep repeating this until the object comes out.

Step three: Call your vets if you still can’t remove the object

  • If you are unable to dislodge the object, call your vet straight away for an emergency appointment.

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