We often compare kids with pets because they are cute, clumsy, and we have to keep an eye on them all the time. In reality, they are really different, and in a lot of ways having a pet can be scary. Especially if you know that something is wrong and they cannot tell you what is happening. While most kids can tell you when they aren’t feeling great, that isn’t the case with our fur babies.

One of the worst things that could happen to a pet owner is hearing them struggling to breathe and not being able to help or call emergency assistance.

How to know that your dog is choking?

Choking can often be mistaken for a variety of other activities, including coughing, gagging, reverse sneezing or vomiting. How to know the difference? If your dog can engage in any normal activities/interactions, it is unlikely to actually be choking. Some dogs might make a lot of scary noises but eat normally and play with you like nothing is happening. This can mean that it’s an allergic reaction or a cold.

The real trouble occurs when your pet experiences a life-threatening airway obstruction. If your dog is making weird sounds while trying to breathe and isn’t responsive, it is time to take action.

Pet owners should look for signs such as discolored tongue or gums, high-pitched squeaking or whistling noises, if any air can get through, anxiety or panic, and loss of consciousness. Loss of consciousness often happens if his throat is obstructed for very long. If your pet is panicking and pawing at her mouth, that is a clear sign that she may need immediate attention.

Now that you know your dog is choking? How can you help?

If your dog is choking we highly recommend you to take your dog to the vet, but if that isn’t possible try the following:

  1. Restrain the dog. Open his mouth wide and pull out his tongue with your fingers or a cloth. Holding the tongue, look deeply into the dog’s throat with a bright light.

2. If you can see the obstruction, grasp it firmly, and gently remove it.

3. If you cannot see the obstruction, lay the dog on his side, place your palms just behind the last rib, and give four quick thrusts.

4. Recheck the throat. Repeat thrusts if necessary.

If nothing changes, try the process again but start thinking about how to get to the vet. Doing so can save your pups life.

Take a trip to the vet:

Even if you’re able to dislodge the foreign object at home and even if the dog looks okay, it’s still a good idea to seek veterinary care after a choking incident. Your vet will check to make sure there is no damage to your dog’s throat or need any further medical attention.

How to prevent choking from happening again:

After this kind of emergency, we know you will prefer if it didn’t happen again. So, let’s prevent it.

The best way to do that is to treat your dog like a toddler and taking similar precautions. Use common sense regarding what you allow your dog to eat and play with, and monitor closely.

While choking is a rare veterinary emergency, it can be fatal … Many more dogs will swallow a foreign object (rather than inhaling it), but this can also be dangerous and expensive to treat.

Last, let’s walk about the top 4 reasons why dogs experiment choking:

Foreign Objects

Our precious furry friends tend to explore their world by tasting and chewing, but sometimes they bite off more than they can chew. A dog can accidentally inhale whatever they are chewing on, and that can cause choking. Choking hazards include chewing toys, balls, rawhides, bones, sticks, and anything smaller than the back of their throat. It is a good idea only to let your dog chew on rawhides and toys under supervision, and take away the toy or rawhide when your dog chews it down small enough to swallow.

Collapsing Trachea

Collapsing trachea is a common cause of choking in older small breed dogs. The trachea is the C-shaped cartilaginous windpipe that connects the nose and mouth with the lungs. In some small breeds, the throat becomes floppy, and the harder a dog sucks air in the trachea, the more collapsed it becomes, causing the dog to cough, sputter, and choke.

While some experimental procedures are being tested at veterinary schools, at the time of writing, there is no cure for collapsing trachea. But if your dog has been diagnosed with a collapsing trachea, there are steps you can take to minimize the condition’s impact on the quality of life. The most helpful recommendations are to keep a dog thin and cool, as excessive body weight and heat exacerbate the condition. If your dog is still struggling, talk with your veterinarian about getting cough medicine. If you are getting a puppy, talk with the breeder about the health of the mother and father, and ask if they have any problems. If the breeder doesn’t know, buy from a different breeder.

Infectious Disease

Kennel cough is a highly contagious infectious respiratory disease in dogs that can mimic the signs of choking. Kennel cough is a catch-all term for several contagious organisms, and dogs catch it from other dogs or from sniffing up sputum coughed up by other dogs, much like you catch the common cold from somebody who sneezes on you. Kennel cough causes dogs to hack and cough like they have something caught in their throat. Sometimes affected dogs will spit up foam. Kennel cough is easily treated with antibiotics and cough medicine. You can prevent your dog from getting kennel cough by staying up-to-date on yearly bordetella vaccinations.

Another disease that can cause choking in dogs is puppy strangles. Puppy strangles is seen in young dogs, and the cause is unknown. Puppy strangles causes the swelling of the throat and lymph nodes, and flu-like symptoms.

Constricting Collars

An often overlooked cause of choking in dogs and cats is a collar that is too tight or a collar that becomes tight when a dog pulls on the leash. Collars can quickly become too tight in fast-growing puppies and kittens, so make sure to check the collar often on puppies and kittens, and keep it loosened enough to slip two fingers under the collar. If your dog pulls excessively on the leash and then chokes and coughs, then he could benefit from being trained to stop pulling through the use of a head halter or harness that is specially designed to reduce pulling.