Save your Pet from Choking

One hopes they’ll never have to endure the terrifying experience of seeing their furry friend choking. However, if this nightmare does occur, a pet owner needs to be well-equipped to save the life of their fuzzy loved one.

What to do if your Cat is Choking:
If your cat shows signs of choking such as pawing at the mouth, coughing/gagging, laboured breathing or unconsciousness, first try looking in their mouth for a foreign item. If you can’t clearly see an obstruction, wrap your cat in a towel or place them in a transport carrier and rush them to your closest veterinarian.

Adhere to the following steps if your cat is either unconscious and not breathing or they appear to be gasping for air. With your fingers, open their mouth and pull their tongue down and forward. Grasp the object if visible. Failing this, the Heimlich Manoeuvre is effective on cats too:

  1. Place the cat on their side.
  2. Place one of your hands on their back and your other hand on the soft area below the last rib.
  3. Give 5 sharp pushes inward and upwards using your hand that’s on the last rib.
  4. Assess the mouth for an object and, if found, remove it with your index finger.
  5. If the object still cannot be seen, close the mouth and breath a few shallow breaths through the nose.
  6. Continue through steps 1 to 5 until the object causing the obstruction has been removed from the airway.
  7. If they are still unconscious and not breathing by now, establish if there’s a heartbeat by placing your index and middle finger on their chest. If you cannot find a pulse, perform CPR or artificial respiration. Rush your cat to emergency care immediately.

What to do if your Dog is Choking:

  1. Holding the mouth open, look for what is choking them. If you see the obstruction at the back of your dog’s throat, attempt to carefully hook and remove it with your index finger. Be cautious as they will panic if their breathing is restricted and may try to bite you. Be careful not to lodge the object further down the throat and worsening the situation.
  2. If the object is too deeply lodged-:
    For small to medium-sized dogs:
    Lift and hold them with their back against your chest.
    For larger dogs:
    Station your dog in a standing position.
  3. For small to medium-sized dogs:
    By making fists with your hands, press firmly on the soft area directly under their ribcage. Using both hands, rapidly and simultaneously push them inwards and upwards 5 times.
    For larger dogs:
    Standing behind your dog, enfold your arms around their stomach area. Make a fist with one hand and position the other over your fist. Pushing firmly inwards and upwards, apply 5 quick abdominal thrusts.
  4. Open the dog’s mouth and look for the obstruction. With your finger, carefully hook, dislodge and remove the object.
  5. If unsuccessful:
    For small to medium-sized dogs:
    Invert and suspend the dog so their head is pointing downwards.
    For larger dogs:
    With the dog’s front paws remaining on the floor, lift their hind legs as if you were using a wheelbarrow.
  6. Again, open the dog’s mouth and sweep the mouth with your index finger to hook, dislodge and remove the object.
  7. Failing this:
    For small to medium-sized dogs:
    Position your dog in a standing or sitting stance, and give your pet 5 sharp blows between the shoulder blades using the palm of your hands.
    For larger dogs:
    Position your dog in a standing stance and give them 5 sharp blows between the shoulder blades using the palm of your hands. 
  8. Again, open the dog’s mouth and sweep the mouth with your index finger to hook, dislodge and remove the object.
  9. Repeat steps 2 to 8 until the object is removed successfully.
  10. Give your dog 5 breaths if they become unconscious, followed by 5 abdominal thrusts. You may need to perform CPR and/or artificial respiration if required.
  11. It’s imperative that you rush your dog to a vet immediately.

 *For small to medium-sized dogs, the above process can be done in the car on the way to the vet if you have someone to drive you there.

Prevention:
It is best to supervise your pets when spoiling them with unusual treats and remove any potential hazardous pet toys once you have finished playing with them.

Things to avoid giving your cat:

  • Rolled up balls of Aluminium foil
  • Corks
  • Balled cellophane
  • String and wool
  • Rubber bands rolled into a ball or loose
  • Toys with ribbons, feathers or plastic eyes
  • Dental floss
  • Toy stuffing
  • Hair ties
  • Food that swells when moist

Things to avoid giving your dog:

  • Tennis balls
  • Sticks
  • Cooked bones, especially chicken and T-bones
  • Gristle
  • Rawhide chews
  • Dental treats
  • Small dog toys
  • Kids toys
  • Plastic wrap
  • Food that swells when moist

Written for inFURmation
by Taliah Williamson

——————————————————————————————

Disclaimer: The information produced by Infurmation is provided for general and educational purposes only and does not constitute any legal, medical or other professional advice on any subject matter. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always seek the advice of your vet or other qualified health care provider prior to starting any new diet or treatment and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you suspect that your pet has a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.