Sometimes while our pets are playing or eating they can accidentally get food or an object lodged in their throat. Our St. Louis veterinarians talk about what to do if your dog or cat begins choking and how you can prevent it from happening again.
What Are The Signs That Your Pet is Choking
Most dogs and cats will display some combination of the following symptoms if they are choking:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Rubbing their face against the ground
- Gagging or retching
- Blue mucous membranes (cyanosis)
What You Should Do If You Notice Your Dog or Cat is Choking?
Gently Try to Remove the Food or Object
First, restrain your pet. Choking cats and dogs will struggle, and this can potentially cause them harm. If they are choking because a cord, string or other item is wrapped around the neck, carefully use scissors to cut it off.
If the cat or dog is choking on something lodged in their mouth or throat, open the mouth to see if you can locate the object. If you can see it, try to swipe it away 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.
Utilize the Heimlich Maneuver for Cats and Dogs
If you are not able to remove the object your pet is choking on, 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, two or three times, toward your own stomach, using a sharp thrusting motion.
- Check the mouth to determine if the object has been dislodged.
Perform CPR on Your Pet
If this doesn’t work and your cat loses their pulse, begin CPR at approximately 120 chest compressions per minute and continue these until at the veterinary practice.
Steps to Take After Your Cat or Dog is No Longer Choking
Even if you manage to remove the object that is choking your cat or dog, it is wise to bring your pet to the vet anyway. 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 You Can Help Prevent Future Choking
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 foods are formulated with the animal's size in mind, but it's always a good idea to monitor them when eating.
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.