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 or puppy 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.
Here's What To Do If An Object Is Stuck In A Dog's Throat
First, Always Try to Manually Dislodge the Object
Use both your hands to open your dog's mouth, with one hand holding the upper jaw and one hand holding the lower. If you have a friend or someone to help, they can hold the dog to their chest while you open the mouth and look down the throat.
Pet Education recommends gently taking your dog's tongue and pulling it outwards to try to dislodge the object. You can also sweep your fingers through your dog's mouth to feel and remove the object. It may be in the back of your dog's throat, so use your fingers to hunt around and remove it.
If you can't manually dislodge the item, use gravity. If you have a small dog, hold him upside down with his 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 tap 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.
If you have a large dog, PetMD recommends that you not lift your dog upside down in case of further injury. Instead, you should proceed to the Heimlich maneuver.
Use the Heimlich
If your dog is struggling to breathe and is choking on an object, you can use the Heimlich maneuver to help clear their air passageway and dislodge the object. First, 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. You can also deliver a few sharp blows to the dog's back between the shoulder blades. Pet Education recommends that you repeat these steps, alternating between these abdominal thrusts and the shoulder blows until the object is removed.
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.
You can prevent your from dog choking by keeping an eye on what your four-legged friend is eating. Make sure to avoid large chunks of food and bones in your dog's food, and to throw away any moisture-swollen sticks and chew toys.