Dogs like to pick up things with their mouths. That’s why there are many common items that they can choke on out of their way.
We’ve all heard that guttural heaving sound that happens when our pet is hacking up a misplaced piece of kibble, right? But what would you do if your pet was genuinely choking? Before we look at which foods pose the greatest choking hazard to your pet, let’s review these four quick steps to dislodging items caught in his throat:
- Lift your dog up with his spine pressed up against you.
- Wrap your arms around his mid-abdomen and use a cupped fist position to deliver a short, hard jerk just below his ribcage. Repeat 5 times.
- Quickly sweep his mouth with your fingers to remove any item he’s coughed up.
- If it hasn’t dislodged the item, place your dog over your lap (or stand him in front of you) and deliver 5 sharp blows to his back (between his shoulder blades) with your open hand. Continue to check his mouth in order to clear the item as soon as it dislodges.
Now that you’ve mastered the art of the doggy Heimlich, let’s check out this list of the top 10 items your pet is likely to choke on.
Any type of ball can slowly degrade and come apart over time. And because dogs are prone to chew and tear at their “caught” prize, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that large pieces of a tennis or rubber ball can easily break off and become lodged in his throat.
2. Rawhide Bones
Particularly the wrap type bones that slowly unwind as your pet chews. Because the only way to break this type of treat down is by worrying away at it, pieces can create a serious obstruction to his esophagus and intestines.
3. Protective Masks
You’ve worn it all day and that super-absorbent paper mask now smells like what you enjoyed for lunch. That makes paper or fabric masks irresistible for your pet. And because they’re bulky enough to cause a serious blockage in his throat, its # 3 on our list.
4. Cooked or Raw Bones
While we know chicken and turkey bones are a big no-no for dogs, all bones eventually break down and splinter as your pet chews them. Brittle fragments can break off and cause choking or even perforate his intestines. If you want him to enjoy a real bone, monitor his progress and remove when it starts to break down.
5. Mini Carrots
This healthy snack is great for those who want to offer up a treat that’s more nutritious than the usual dog biscuit. But this small, solid little veggie is the perfect size to lodge in your pet’s throat. Particularly if tossed into the air and caught. Best to cut into pieces or hand over a whole, large-sized carrot for him to gnaw on.
Its hard to supervise a dog out walking on a trail when he starts parading that perfect stick and then runs off to give it a little chew. Truth is, just like a bone it can splinter, cutting gums and wedging in your pet’s throat. So, watch him on trails, and distract him when he comes running with those small sticks.
Oddly enough, a number of dogs enjoy rooting around for a little stone to carry around on their walk. Maybe it’s the size, the smell, the shape. But if he begins to toss it around and catch it, you should be concerned about not only broken teeth, but that something this solid could easily become wedged in his throat.
8. Plastic Wrap
Just like your protective mask, smells and flavors can cling to plastic wrap and turn it into a juicy, chewable treat your dog will love. The problem is, it won’t break down, it will wad up in his throat or intestine and create a sizeable blockage that if caught soon enough can be removed by the Heimlich. If not, he’ll need surgery.
9. Hard Candy
Fruity scented candies will always be an irresistible lure – wrapped or not. And because this tiny treat is something your pet has likely sneaked, odds are he’s going to eat it quickly and quite possibly, whole. Gulping can cause it to lodge in his throat and result in a serious choking hazard.
10. Kid’s Toys
Think Lego pieces, Barbie accessories, balls of clay or playdough. Dogs are intrigued by anything small that can fit into their mouth for chewing. And when it comes to art supplies or fruit-scented markers, he’ll be positive that they’re edible. Keep kids toys in a separate room, or make sure playtime clean-up is thorough.
Mary Simpson is a writer and communications professional from Port Credit, Ontario. A soft touch for anything stray, she shares her century home with an eclectic collection of rescues that include Schnoodles, Lexie and Ruby James as well as tuxedo Simon, and ginger Harry. She enjoys running, politics, exploring the wine regions of Niagara and is an avid supporter of the “shop local” movement.