Choking is anything that causes breathing difficulties due to foreign material in the trachea, or compression on the windpipe.
If dog is unconscious:
- Open dog’s mouth and do a finger sweep – place your finger along the inside of the mouth and slide it down toward the center of the throat and over the base of the tongue, moving back toward the center to remove any foreign material.
- After checking for and removing any blockage, if dog is not breathing, you may need to begin CPR.
- If air is not going in when you begin mouth-to-nose, then you need to perform the Heimlich maneuver, or do a chest compression to clear any foreign material out of the way. Perform another finger sweep, and begin rescue breathing. Repeat this until the foreign body is clear and the lungs can be inflated.
- Transport dog to your nearest veterinarian.
If dog is conscious:
- Remain calm, and try to keep your dog calm.
- Perform a finger sweep only if it will not “excite” the pet (i.e. bite your hand off)
Choking can sometimes be confused with coughing as both can cause the dog to exhale forcefully. If choking, the dog will have difficult inhaling; when coughing, inhalations will be almost normal. Distinguishing between the two is important as attempting to perform first aid on a non-choking dog could injure it.