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Dogs can choke on many things, they may be playing, eating or get hold of something they shouldn't and it may end up causing a blockage in their airway. If you see your dog start to choke let them try to clear the obstruction, they are very good at it, they can cough, move their body about and often expel objects very well. If they cannot you will need to intervene. You may have heard of abdominal thrusts (also previously called the Heimlich Manoeuvre that is used for humans who are choking, well there is a doggie version too.

Now, the actions you need to take are slightly different depending on the size of the dog

  • In all cases check the mouth, if it is something you can remove safely, remove it, move the head gently to see if it is possible encourage the item to fall out
  • If it doesn't and you can't remove it you need to take action, which will involve forcing trapped air in the stomach against the lungs and up through to the mouth
  • This should never be practiced on a real dog
  • If you have a small dog hold them close to you, take your thumb outside of your fist and give a sharp inward and upward blow just below the Sternum, where the rib cage finishes, onto the stomach give five thrusts, after each thrust check to see if the object has been cleared. 
  • For large dogs, the technique is the same, but go behind the dog if it is standing with an arm around each side, make the fist and pull inwards and upwards, again checking to see if the object clears after every thrust. If the dog has collapsed you can still put your arms around and use the same technique.
  • Keep checking to see if the obstruction has cleared and look at the colour of the tongue and lips, if they are turning blue, your dog is becoming starved of oxygen
  • If your cat is choking and cannot breath, treat them the same way you would a small dog
  • Be aware that pushing into the stomach can cause internal damage and your pet may go into shock and could die, so make sure that you take your dog or cat to the vet to be checked immediately.