Putting objects in their mouths is the dogs' way of familiarizing with their environment and satisfying their curiosities. Therefore it is common for dogs to choke on large chunks of food, on bones, plastic toys, stones and on pieces of wood. Choking is one of the most common reasons why dogs are rushed to veterinary clinics. A blockage that will obstruct the airways will be created by the swallowed object. Choking is an emergency situation that when not given the necessary first aid treatment can result to the death of the dog.
It is therefore necessary for a pet parent to have a fair knowledge on what must be done to help the pet. It would be ideal if the pet can be taken to an animal hospital right away but if it is not possible the owner's first aid know how will save the life of the pet.
Coughing can at times be mistaken as chocking. It would be necessary for an owner to make sure if the dog simply coughing and not chocking. Chocking first aid on a coughing dog would have disastrous results. An object that is stuck in the throat can partially or totally obstruct the airways. A dog can die if the swallowed object is not removed immediately.
Gagging and vomiting are signs that a dog's airway is blocked. The dog would salivate excessively and continuously paw at the mouth. Breathing would be difficult for a choking dog. Naturally, a panicking owner that wants to help the pet would do so by opening the mouth. Dogs in this kind of situation though are highly stressed and can manifest an aggressive temperament. Take extra care in opening the dog's mouth. To prevent the dog from biting your fingers, make sure that the lips of the pet is between the teeth and your fingers. It would be a good idea to ask another person's help in restraining the dog. Carefully and gently sweep the opened mouth with your finger. Some objects can be removed with tweezers or long nosed pliers but you have to be very careful not to hurt the dog further.
To help a chocking pet, the Heimlich maneuver is commonly used to remove a blockage far down the dog's throat. For a medium sized dog, you can grasp the hind legs and position the pet in a wheel barrow style. After the dog has assumed the wheel borrow position use a fist on the last rib to push the abdomen until the blockage is removed.