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What to do if your dog is choking

When dogs are choking, they display all sorts of symptoms to start with. It is usually quite obvious because they’re wheezing or gagging or drooling. They can be pawing at their mouths, trying to cough the object back up and are usually in obvious distress.

So, there are four steps we would promote to help a dog that is choking. The first step is to milk the throat. So, you’re going to get your two thumbs and milk the throat upwards to try and dislodge an object. It’s usually really good to be able to do that if it’s a larger object like a ball but if it’s a smaller object like a bit of kibble it may be as effective.

If that doesn’t work, you’re going to lift the dog by its hind legs. So, you’re going to get a firm grip by the dog’s body and you’re going to go downwards with the dog three times if you can lift it up clear off the ground. However, if you can’t lift it off the ground, if like me you have a larger breed and it’s physically not impossible for you to lift the dog off the ground try and lean the dog up your body.

So, maybe lean the dog up your body so that gravity can still help the dog to expel the object.
If that doesn’t work, you’re then going to go on and do something called coupage which is the equivalent of back slaps for dogs. We don’t advise doing back slaps on dogs because their shoulder blades are much closer together.

On a human their much further apart so they’re okay. So, we advise doing something called coupage which is where you cup your hand, so air can get between your hand and the dog. You go up the dog’s ribs doing coupage. You want to do it quite firmly because you’re trying to dislodge something in the dog’s throat. If possible, you do it with the hind legs raised so you’ve got gravity on the dog’s side as well.

If that doesn’t work you’re then going to go on to the final step which is the abdominal thrust. With the abdominal thrust, you’re inserting your fist into the abdominal area of the dog. Again, if you can get gravity on the dog’s side that is the preferred option. You’re going to put your other hand around the back of the fist and do your abdominal thrust upwards.

After each of those steps, you want to check inside the dog’s mouth in case it has dislodged the object and you are able to remove it. Remember it’s always human safety first.

About Jo Middleton

Dog first aid trainer and founder of Dog First Aid Franchise Ltd – an organisation with a veterinary team boasting over 50 years experience.