Dogs and Cats explore the world differently from humans. Our vision is good, but not as keen as humans, so we mainly use our nose and mouth to learn about everything around us. If something smells good enough, we usually try to taste it. And if it tastes good enough, we may try to eat it. This can lead to us eating things that are not meant to be eaten, and if we try to swallow something that’s not meant to be swallowed, we can start choking.
Some pets symptoms of choking is very similar to humans, and includes difficulty breathing, choking sounds when breathing, coughing, and a blue colored lips and/or tongue. We may also paw at our mouth a lot when we are choking. If you think we are choking, stay calm and approach us carefully. A choking pet is a very scared pet so we may act out and try to bite or scratch you.
If your pup or cat is still breathing but you suspect an object in the airway, transport him or her to your veterinarian or emergency vet clinic immediately. It’s good to always call ahead so they can be ready to see your pet when you arrive. That’s why you should always have your vet and emergency vet’s number in your cell phone so you can get us the care we need without having any unnecessary delays. If your pup is having great difficulty breathing or has collapsed, call and transport your pet to your vet immediately.
To perform at home/in car care while waiting to get to the vet, first look into your pets mouth to see if you can see any object lodged in the mouth or throat. If you see an object, gently try to remove the object with tweezers or a small pair of sterilized pliers. Be very careful when doing this as you do not want to push the object down further into your pet’s throat. If it’s difficult to reach, don’t try to remove it; just take your pet to the vet as quickly as possible.
To perform the doggie or kitty Heimlich Maneuver, lay your pet on it’s side and using both hands, apply quick firm pressure along it’s rib cage. You want to imagine pushing air out of your pet’s lungs to push the object out. Repeat as necessary until the object comes out or you arrive at the vet clinic.
If you ever have to perform this, and I hope you don’t, stay calm and remain focused. Remember you are helping your pet! And to help avoid having to do this, try to keep all small objects out of your dog or cats reach. Look at your home as your pet would, and remove any objects that may tempt us into giving them a taste.