As pet parents, we try to do everything we can to keep our pets safe and healthy. Unfortunately, our pets can sometimes get into things or play in ways that we can't control which can lead to unnerving situations such as choking. Here, our vets in Cumming share the steps to take when your cat or dog is choking and what you can do to prevent your pet from choking in the future.
Signs Your Dog or Cat is Choking
Some of the most common signs that a dog or cat is choking are:
- Blue mucus membranes (cyanosis)
- Pawing at the mouth
- Gagging or retching
- Rubbing their face against the ground
If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, follow the steps below and bring your pet to our animal hospital as soon as possible for emergency care.
How to Help a Choking Dog or Cat
When you have a choking dog or cat, it can be extremely stressful and you may not know exactly what to do. Here, our vets in Cumming share some advice about what to do if your cat or dog is choking:
Try to Remove the Object From Their Mouth
Be sure to restrain your pet before you begin. When your dog or cat is scared, they will struggle which can lead to serious injuries. If they are choking due to a cord, string or other item being wrapped around the neck, carefully use a pair of scissors to cut it off.
If the object that your pet is choking on is in their mouth or throat, you should open the mouth to see if you can find the object. If you're able to see it, try swiping it away with your finger.
If you cannot see it, don't try to poke your finger down your pet's throat to find it, as this can potentially cause injury. If you're unable to dislodge the object by swiping it away, do not try to push on it or poke it, as this can end up forcing it further down the throat.
Perform the Heimlich Maneuver
If you try but are unable to remove the object, you'll have to do the Heimlich maneuver:
- Lay your pet 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 in, two or three times, toward your stomach, using a sharp thrusting motion.
- Check the mouth to determine if the object has been dislodged.
CPR For Your Cat or Dog
If these attempts at removing the object have been unsuccessful and your pet's pulse is slowing, begin CPR at approximately 120 chest compressions per minute and continue these until at the veterinary practice.
Next Steps to Take After Your Pet Stops Choking
Even if you manage to successfully remove the object that your cat or dog was choking on you should still contact your vet to book an exam. 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 Pet From Choking in the Future
To minimize the chances of your pet choking in the future, make sure to keep an eye on anything that could be a potential choking hazard.
Generally, dog and cat food is 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.