As a pet parent, you always hope to help keep your pet safe and healthy. Unfortunately, accidents and emergencies can happen. Our Grass Valley veterinarians share the signs of choking in dogs and cats and the steps you can take to relieve your pet and prevent it from happening again.
The Signs of Choking in Cats & Dogs
If your dog or cat is choking then you will likely see one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Rubbing their face against the ground
- Gagging or retching
- Blue mucous membranes (cyanosis)
The Steps to Take if Your Pet is Choking
Try to Remove the Object From Your Pets Mouth
Restrain your pet before you go any further. When a pet is choking they will be frightened and struggle which can cause harm to both you and your pet. If they are choking because a cord, string or other item is wrapped around the neck, carefully use a pair of scissors to cut it off.
If you have determined that your cat or dog is choking then you can open their mouth and see if the object is visible. If it is then you can attempt to remove it with your finger.
If you cannot see it, don't try to poke your finger down your pet's throat in an effort to find it, as this can cause injury. If you can't dislodge the object by swiping it away, do not try to poke it or push on it, as this could force it further down the throat.
Performing the Heimlich Maneuver
If you cannot locate the object and remove it then you will need to move on to performing the Heimlich maneuver.
- Lay your dog or cat on their side.
- Hold your pet's back against your stomach (head up, paws down).
- With one hand, find the soft hollow under the ribs (your closed fist should fit into this spot).
- Use the hand on your pet's stomach to pull up and inward two or three times, toward your own stomach, using a sharp thrusting motion.
- Check the mouth to determine if the object has been dislodged.
CPR For Dogs & Cats
If the Heimlich maneuver is not successful and your pet loses their pulse, begin CPR at approximately 120 chest compressions per minute and continue these until at the veterinary practice.
What to Do After Your Pet is No Longer Choking
If you were able to successfully remove the object then you should schedule a veterinary visit to allow your vet to perform a full examination. The vet will be able to ensure that the choking didn't cause any harm to your pet's body that you can't see.
How to Prevent Your Cat or Dog From Choking Again
In order to help minimize the risk of choking then you should ensure that no small objects are left lying around the home.
Generally, dog and cat food are formulated with the animal's size in mind, but it's always a good idea to monitor them when they are eating anyway.
Monitor your dog or cat during play and make sure any toys do not include pieces that could break off and become potential choking hazards.Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.