What should I do if my dog is choking?
Fortunately, it’s rather uncommon for a dog to choke. There are, however, many instances when a dog may seem to be choking. For instance, often when a dog coughs, it sounds as if he is trying to get something out of his throat. (While coughing is not necessarily life threatening, the dog should be seen by a veterinarian to determine the cause.)
If a dog truly has something lodged in his throat, he is often distressed and may be pawing at his mouth or throat area. This is an emergency and your dog must be seen by a veterinarian right away.
Reverse sneeze syndrome is another phenomenon that’s often misinterpreted as choking. When this happens, the dog extends his head and neck forward and forcefully inhales through the nose and mouth, often appearing to grimace. These episodes can last for seconds or minutes and can be repetitive and distressing to both dog and human.
Reverse sneeze syndrome most often strikes small breed dogs with small mouths or “pushed in” (brachycephalic) noses. It can happen to any dog, though, and is associated with allergies or irritants in the environment. Reverse sneeze syndrome is usually not an emergency, but if you are ever concerned that your dog is distressed, bring him to his veterinarian right away.
Many communities offer pet first aid classes, often through the American Red Cross. At a pet first aid class, you may learn how to perform a Heimlich Maneuver intended to aid in dislodging an object in the throat. This maneuver should never be performed if you have not received training on how to correctly and safely administer it, nor should it be performed if you are not 100% certain the animal is choking. An improperly performed Heimlich can cause serious injury or even death, particularly for small dogs.
If you have witnessed your dog eat something and are certain he is choking, rush him immediately to the closest veterinarian. Never place your own fingers or hands in a dog’s mouth as he may bite unexpectedly due to fear or distress