Dogs are curious animals and often gulp down anything and everything while they explore their world. At times, these items may become trapped in their throats. Dogs with foreign objects lodged in their throats are at risk for choking or becoming injured by sharp objects that may puncture the delicate tissue in their throats. If your dog has a foreign object trapped in its throat, you may notice that it is coughing and gagging. There are a few ways you can help dislodge this object before emergency veterinary care is needed. However, it's important that you take your dog to the vet even if you were able to remove the foreign object yourself to make sure that no serious damage was done.
First, Always Try To Manually Dislodge The Object
Have someone else restrain your dog by hugging him tightly to their chest. Gently open your dog's mouth and look down his throat. If you can see the foreign object, use your thumb and forefinger (if you can reach it) to grab the object. If you can't reach it, use a pair of needle-nose pliers to pull the item free.
If you can't manually dislodge the item, use gravity. If you have a small dog, hold him upside down with its head facing the ground to help dislodge the foreign object. If you have a large dog, grab its hind legs and lift, forcing its head downward (like a wheelbarrow). This can sometimes help your dog cough up the obstruction.
Administer a sharp hit to the dog's back between its shoulder blades once with a firm, open palm. This can sometimes jolt the item free from your dog's throat.
Use the Heimlich as a Last Resort
It's rare that you would need to use the Heimlich maneuver (and improper technique could hurt your dog), but if your dog is actually choking on an object (his air passageway is completely blocked) and you won't be able to get him professional emergency care in time to save his life, you'll have to resort to this method. Kneel or stand behind your dog and wrap your arms around him with his legs facing away from you.
Make a fist and find the soft, hollow area beneath your dog's rib cage. Cover your fist with the palm of your other hand and place it in the soft space below your dog's rib cage and thrust inward and upward towards the rib cage 4 to 5 times. This should dislodge the object.
Take your dog to the veterinarian immediately even if you are successful in removing the foreign object as it may have cut or damaged the inside of your dog's throat requiring further care.