Pet Safety 101: How to Help a Choking Pet, and Other Helpful Tips


If you’re like a lot of cat and dog owners, you might refer to your pets as your “fur kids,” and always make sure they receive the highest quality of care, food, and loving attention.
I’ve always had pets, and naively considered myself pretty savvy when it comes to their care. When I attended my Pet First Aid Certification class through the American Red Cross, I realized I was skilled in giving affection, but not necessarily in having an action plan in case of emergencies.
Just like human kids, your “fur kids” can accidentally swallow most small objects around your home. Do you know what to do in this situation?
Keep reading and always remember these potentially life-saving steps to care for your pet:

  • Know the Signs: your pet may be coughing or making hacking noises, pawing at their face, or even have blue or white gums.
  • Open the mouth and carefully sweep the inside with your finger to try to feel and dislodge the object. Be careful not to push the object further into the throat.
  • If the object is out of reach, gently pull the tongue forward to possibly move the object closer to you.

If the Object is Still Stuck:

  • For a cat or small dog, lift and hold your pet with their spine against your chest and shape your hands into a fist, performing abdominal thrusts in an inward and upward motion just behind the last rib. Quickly do this 5 times and then re-check their mouth to see if the object has been dislodged or is more within your reach.
  • For a large dog, place your pet on their side and place your overlapped palms below the rib cage and perform 5 rapid presses in an inward and upward motion. Check to see if the object is more within your reach.

If the object has moved or is within sight but not your reach, if possible, obtain a tweezers to snatch out the object.
In addition, the First Aid Class also offered several important tips that are certainly helpful to remember.

  • If your pet has a bleeding cut or wound, no matter the size, cover with a piece of gauze or towel and do not remove it. Our first instinct is to remove the material to check the injury, but this only removes the initial clotting layer and will encourage more bleeding. Instead, layer more gauze until the bleeding ceases to come through, and wrap the bandaging with adhesive tape.
  • Don’t have gauze or adhesive tape handy? Your pets need a First Aid Kit too, just like we do. A typical kit includes: gauze, adhesive tape, Benadryl in appropriate dosage tablets for bee stings or unexpected allergic reactions, a tweezers for choking or to remove bee stingers, hydrogen peroxide to sanitize wounds, and any other materials you find necessary.
  • Always observe your surroundings. You come home and find Fluffy unconscious on the floor. Before rushing off to your vet, remember to look around at Fluffy’s surroundings. Did he get into your medicine cabinet and swallow any prescriptions? Was a bottle of cleaner knocked over that he drank? Is he choking on a toy? Any information you’re immediately able to provide your emergency vet can save his life.

It may be tempting to disregard these types of instances or simply assume they wouldn’t happen to our pets, but being prepared is the best action to take. It is much better to be knowledgeable in how to respond to an incident, than be unable to properly care for our fur kids.     

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