Some of us know how to perform CPR on a human, but what about your dog? Would you understand and be able to help Fido if you were put in that situation? Maybe not. There are a lot of choking hazards out there for dogs, maybe not all that you would expect!
Unfortunately, not all playing balls are safe for your best friend. In fact, the spark that ignited the flame of Go Bark Ball was actually because a dog choked on a tennis ball.
"A tennis ball?" you might be wondering, "Really?"
Yes, really! If your dog is an active woofer, then you've probably noticed that s/he goes through tennis balls like they're candy. Downsides of tennis balls are that they're hallow, short-lived, and the green fuzz tears apart!
Unfortunately, ridding the world of tennis balls (and replacing them with Bark Balls) won't solve all our problems when it comes to dealing with choking hazards. Dogs, like humans, are clumsy and have the potential to choke on anything. And guess what, they rely on us to help them if it happens!
If you're concerned that your best friend is choking, don't hesitate to call your vet! If your vet is not open, look up your local animal hospital/emergency clinic! Signs of choking include extreme distress, lots of drooling, and pawing at the mouth. 1 If the foreign object causes difficulty in breathing, your dog will attempt to get it out of his/her throat through coughing and pawing. Other physical signs include: blue colored skin, nose, and lips. Choking might eventually lead your pup to collapse. 1
--> FOR SMALL DOGS: Hold his back against your stomach (head up, paws down), and find the soft hollow under the ribs. Your closed first should fit into this spot. Pull up and in two or three times, toward your own tummy, use a thrusting motion.If you are at home and your dog is choking, you should: restrain them (they may bite you if they are in a panic), remove anything wrapped around their neck (use scissors if necessary), examine the inside of mouth/throat, use large tweezers to retrieve/break any object seen, NEVER PUSH AT THE OBJECT with your fingers, and if you cannot see anything, DO NOT stick your fingers down their throat (this can damage tissue). Large objects, such as balls of rawhide, can sometimes be dislodged by placing firm pressure with both thumbs underneath the jaw at the base of the throat and pushing forward.2 If your dog has collapsed, try a variation of the Heimlich maneuver:
--> FOR BIGGER DOGS: If your dog is too big to lift, place him on his side and kneel behind his back. Place your closed fist in the hollow under his rib cage, and push upward and inward sharply, in the direction of your dog's head and your knees.
ONLY EVER DO THIS IN SERIOUS EMERGENCY SITUATIONS! It can cause damage to the chest, and your dog will need to be checked afterwards by a vet.
Make sure to take your dog to the vet if you are concerned that their life may be in danger! As the saying goes, "Better safe than sorry." Always be watchful of your canine, and don't let them play with toys that are small enough to be choking hazards. Your dog is your best friend--if not family--and s/he deserves to have a properly informed caretaker watching over. Stay safe and love your doggo!