How to Save a Dog From Choking

How to Save a Dog From Choking
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

It’s relatively common for a dog to choke on an object and not be able to breathe. You’ll need to follow specific instructions to save a dog from choking. The first one is to remain calm to prevent this situation from getting worse.
Dogs are easily affected by their owner’s mood.  If the canine shows symptoms of choking, he will start panicking. He’ll be even more frightened if he perceives his owner is panicking as well. This is going to hinder anything you try to do to help him.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to have the veterinarian’s phone number on hand. Also, you should have a specialist’s number from a 24-hour clinic.  Sometimes, it’s necessary to have a doctor’s instructions in order to save a dog from choking.

First, analyze your dog

Dogs show signs of choking due to different reasons. Some breeds have a long soft palate such as Pugs, Pekingeses, Dachshunds and in small dog breeds in general. This applies especially to those who have flattened or not very protruding noses.
choking dog
When a dog starts gasping for air, the soft palate blocks the entrance of the windpipes and obstructs his breathing. However, this condition corrects itself on its own, without causing any further damage.
The so-called “kennel cough” or heart failure also cause breathing problems. In such cases, you shouldn’t perform any maneuvers to save your dog from choking, but call your vet instead.

Maneuvers to save a dog from choking

If your dog is choking on an object, you’ll need to act fast without panicking. It’s best to open the dog’s muzzle and check if the object can be seen with the naked eye. If so, take some tweezers and remove it very carefully.
If the dog is frantic, it’s best not to try removing the object yourself. Instead, call the vet and follow his instructions, or take the dog directly to the ER.
You can also try holding the dog so that his nose is pointing towards the ground. Then shake him to allow gravity to help him spit out the object that he’s choking on. If the dog is large, you should pick him up from his hind legs, as if he were a wheelbarrow.
You can also try giving him a few strong pats on his back to have him cough up the object he’s choking on. 4 to 5 strong pats between his shoulder blades will be enough. You can repeat the procedure if it does not work the first time.

The Heimlich Maneuver

If the aforementioned procedures don’t work, try the Heilmich maneuver. Be very careful while you use it. Preferably, you should ask someone else to help you.  The steps to follow are:
  • Hug the dog by the waist, with his head pointing downward. Hold him firmly, but not too tight.
  • It is a good idea to have someone hold the dog by the scruff as you perform it. It will help keep the dog remain steady and can restrain him if he’s frantic.
  • Your hands should be in the following position: Form a fist and cover it with your other hand.
  • Your hands should be placed just under his thorax, on the soft area just under the rib-cage.
  • Give 3-5 thrusts inwards and upwards. Be careful not to use excessive force because you could hurt or fracture your dog’s bones.
  • Repeat the procedure 3 or 4 times, pausing briefly between each set of thrusts.
choking dog

When performing this maneuver, the amount of force is extremely important. It shouldn’t be too soft that it has no effect, or too hard that it hurts the animal, especially if the animal has ever been injured. Be especially cautious with small dogs.
Whatever the case may be, after you have preformed the emergency procedures, you should take the dog to the vet. The professional will verify that there has been no collateral damage.
Main image source: myri_bonnie

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.