If your pup is like most dogs, when it comes to food, he is willing to eat just about anything that crosses his path. In a dog’s world, if it can fit in their mouth, it qualifies as a food or toy. And while most of what our dogs come into contact with out in the world or at home are relatively harmless to consume, there are still plenty of potentially dangerous hazards they can still come into contact with.
Many dogs have a naturally excited instinct to investigate things using their nose or mouths, which drastically increases the risk of accidentally choking on an object that is not intended to go down their narrow passageways. One of the scariest situations a pet owner can imagine is coming home to find their dog choking or suddenly unable to breathe. Unlike humans that would draw attention to themselves by making indicative gestures that they are in trouble, dogs, on the other hand, are not able to communicate to us that they are choking. And since our animal friends are not able to communicate with us in this way, it is extremely important for us to know what dog choking signs look like should they ever occur.
Because there are many signs that can be confusing to understand, it is especially important for dog owners to know the difference between these actions and actual dog choking signs. Often times, what may sound or look like choking, is actually an indication of another type of condition. For instance, many owners confuse when a canine is coughing, gagging, reverse sneezing or vomiting to be signs a dog is choking when that actually is not the case. Being able to distinguish a minor issue from a potentially fatal one, will not only help to keep your own stress and panic to a minimum but your animal’s as well.
So, what are the signs a dog is choking?
Discolored Tongue or Gums
If you notice that your dog’s tongue or gums have turned a shade of blue, gray, or white, this may be a sign that something is seriously wrong. This unusual change in coloration is caused by a lack of oxygen, signaling that your dog is not getting the proper amount of air to breathe. It is a good idea to check out the inside of your dog’s mouth from time-to-time so you are able to quickly discern what it normally looks like from what is abnormal. All of our animals are unique, so the main thing to be aware of is what “normal” is for your pet.
High-Pitched Squeaking or Whistling Noises
Dog’s make an array of unusual or funny sounds from time-to-time, so it’s important to pay attention to the noises that seem more irregular. For example, if your animal is making a high-pitched squeaking sound or you notice them whistling from trying to allow air to pass through their breathing canal, these may be signs a dog is choking.
These bizarre sounds are your dog’s way of indicating that he has a limited air supply and will need the object affecting his breathing removed immediately. If you notice that your pet is struggling to breathe as he normally would or if he is having difficulty passing air through his lungs, call your vet right away. Your vet can either help to walk you through the process over the phone or may advise you to bring your dog in to be seen by a professional. Either way, you are instructed to proceed, it’s important to figure out the problem and come up with a solution as quickly as you can.
Anxiety or Panic
Many animals experience mild cases of canine anxiety that can be caused by a multitude of different factors. Being left at home too long, not getting enough exercise, not having proper canine socialization, and so on. All of these things can cause an animal to panic or feel uneasy, but in a situation of choking, these levels of stress will be much higher.
If your pet is panicking in a way you have never seen before, it is a possible sign that your dog may need immediate attention. On their own, anxiety and panic are not always the most obvious signs a dog is choking, but when in conjunction with any of these other signs, can be an indication that the situation has become dire for your animal.
Loss of Consciousness
One of the most obvious dog choking signs would be them actually losing consciousness from a lack of air supply. If your pet passes out, call the vet right away! Do not wait to see if they revive themselves on their own. Depending on how long your pet has been without breathable air, the chances of them pulling through will be much lower the longer you wait to have them looked at.
Pawing At Their Mouth
As we mentioned before, dogs do not have the ability to talk to us and tell us when something is wrong. If you notice your pet is pawing at his mouth, this is his way of signaling to you that something is not right. Pay attention to these cues and inspect his mouth and throat right away.
If you think your dog is choking, look for the signs listed above. Once you have verified that he is indeed struggling, call your vet for further guidance.