Dogs and especially young pets love to grab, taste and chew anything within reach. When that happens, choking pets can be in a life-threatening situation. Our first dog often played with sticks, and more than once he ran crying to us, mouth forced wide open with a stick jammed into the roof of his mouth. Yikes!
First Aid For Choking Pets
Won?t It Pass Through?
Tiny swallowed objects may pass out of the body without causing harm. One of our dogs liked to play with and eat cat toys. The pom-pom type objects simply turned his (ahem!) deposits into sparkly piles.
The cats weren?t particularly pleased at that, but I?m just grateful the toy ends up in the yard and not caught in his throat or worse. Even small items can become dangerous if they cause an intestinal blockage, or are sharp and cut or tear as they move through the intestinal track.
Objects that lodge in the windpipe or throat can be scary for you as well as pets. Signs include gagging, coughing and retching behaviors. They may paw at their open mouth, or scrub muzzles and faces on the ground or carpet to dislodge the object.
Choking can kill your pet if it completely blocks breathing. Even a partial blockage could cause fainting. Small balls can stopper the throat like a cork in a wine bottle, in which case you have minutes to save your pet?s life. Here?s what you need to do.
First Aid 101 for Choking Pets
Restrain your dog. You can?t help him if he?s frantic, and panic could make him lash out at you and bite if you look inside his mouth.
Get a grip. Use a cloth to handle the slippery tongue, and pull the tongue out of the way. That may actually help dislodge the object. If the dog will allow it, use tongs or needle-nose pliers to try and grasp the object. Do you hear wheezing? If so, air is getting through?but only try a couple of times. If unsuccessful, speed to the ER for help!
Cut the object. For sticks or bones, use bolt cutters or similar tools. They can cut through the stick to release the pressure and it can be easily removed.
Pet Heimlich Maneuver
A pet Heimlich maneuver also can help pop the object out of your pet?s throat. You?ll need to adjust the procedure depending on the size of the pet. Here?s what to do.
For small pets, hold his back pressed against your own tummy with his paws down and head up. Feel for the soft spot right under the pet?s ribs. Fit your closed fist into this depression. Use a thrusting motion to pull UP and INWARD in a series of 2 or 3 motions. The idea is to use the pet?s lung-power, compressed with your actions, to un-cork the blockage.
For larger dogs. For bigger dogs you can?t lift, situate him on one side on the floor. Kneel behind his back and again position your fist in the soft hollow spot beneath his ribs. Thrust up and inward in a sharp motion, toward his head and your knees.
You may need to repeat the maneuver several times. Once the item comes loose, remove it, and your pet should start breathing again. If the object can?t be moved, have somebody drive you to the emergency clinic while you continue the Heimlich in the back seat.
In most cases, getting rid of the choking obstruction allows the pet to begin breathing again on his own. But it?s still important to have your pet checked out by the veterinarian, even if your first aid manages to get rid of the choking hazard. The foreign object could have left abrasions inside the mouth or throat that require treatment.
Pet-proof your dog and cat toys, and supervise playtime outside. Anything that doesn?t move faster than he does could be a choking hazard waiting to happen!
Have you administered first-aid to your pet? How was your experience? Please share us your thoughts by leaving your comments below.
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