Everyone loves to give their dogs treats, and feeding time can be a special bonding moment for many dogs and their owners. However, just as humans can choke on food, dogs can as well. If you notice that your dog is beginning to choke on something, the best thing you can do is to remain calm and follow one or more of these directives.
Clearing an Unconscious Dog's Throat
If your dog is unconscious from choking, you need to act fast. Quickly open the dog's mouth and reach your fingers down his or her throat and attempt to clear the obstruction. If this is unsuccessful and your dog is small, pick it up by its hind legs and try to shake the obstruction out by jarring the dog up and down. If you still cannot clear the dog's airway, or you have a large dog, contact an emergency vet immediately. They will either instruct you on what to do next, or be ready for your arrival so they can perform the necessary emergency procedures.
Perform a Doggie Heimlich Maneuver
If the dog is conscious, lay the pet down on its side and place your hands just behind its ribs. Apply firm pressure with a strong forward motion in an attempt to dislodge the obstruction and open the airway.
When performing this movement you may notice your pet gagging or coughing. This is actually a sign that the object is moving or being pushed up. If the dog is conscious, it may instinctively try to throw up the object as well. After a few compressions, check the throat and mouth to see if you can pull the obstruction out.
Get Someone to Drive You to the Vet
If the choking continues after you've attempted to intervene, or if he or she is still unconscious, take your dog to the vet immediately. Ask a family member or friend to drive you to the pet hospital, so that you can continue to give your dog the necessary attention. In the car, keep trying to open its airway with your fingers, or use the modified Heimlich maneuver until you see a response.
Even though a choking dog might make you feel helpless at first, if you remain calm and act quickly, you can save your dog's life. Even if you are successful in removing the object from your dog's throat, take him or her to the vet as soon as possible for a full examination, not only to give your dog the best care they can get, but to give yourself some peace of mind as well.