Dogs, especially puppies and curious breeds, are naturally inclined to explore their environment with their mouths. This behavior is natural and essential for their development, but it also puts them at risk of choking on various objects.
Choking poses a significant hazard for dogs, so it’s a must for responsible pet owners to be aware of the items in and out of their homes that can increase this risk. Being the custodian of your dog and your household, it’s up to you to keep choking hazards out of your pet’s reach.
Below is some insight from PrideBites on some of the most common causes of choking accidents in dogs. You’ll also find tips on how to watch out for the telltale signs of choking and how you can protect your canine companion from choking with pet care essentials like custom martingale collars.
1) Bones and Rawhide Chews
Bones and rawhide chews are popular treats for dogs, but they should only be used with supervision. This is because these items can splinter or break into small pieces at any time when they’re being chewed. If ingested, the broken pieces may cause choking or internal blockages.
Instead of giving your dog real bones or rawhide, opt for safer alternatives such as rubber chew toys or dental chews that are designed to be easily digestible. Avoid giving your dog any bone or chew product that’s in poor condition, as these can easily splinter. And if your dog has a habit of picking up bones during your walks, for example from a neighbor’s trash pile, train them to leave items on command.
2) Small Food Items
Certain human foods can be choking hazards for dogs, especially small and hard items. Aside from being toxic to dogs, for example, grapes and raisins can be choking hazards. Never feed your dog these foods, and be cautious about leaving even small items like candies accessible on counters or tables. In addition, be mindful of accidentally dropping small food items on the floor during mealtime.
3) Small Toys and Similar Objects
Toys play a big role in keeping your pup happy and engaged, but it’s worth noting that small toys and similar household objects are also among the most common choking hazards for dogs. Dogs can choke on many types of items, including buttons, coins, or small parts from children's toys. Puppies, in particular, are at risk of picking up and chewing on these items due to their natural curiosity, inadvertently swallowing them in the process.
To prevent such incidents, ensure that your dog's toys are appropriate for their size and avoid leaving small objects like your kids’ toys within their reach. Again, it’s a must to supervise playtime and make sure there are no items strewn around that could be choking hazards to your dog.
4) Plastic Bags and Wrappers
Dogs can sometimes be attracted to plastic bags or food wrappers because of the smell of food residue. That may explain why your dog has the urge to raid a trash can whenever they have the chance.
But plastic bags and wrappers can infamously cause choking and suffocation in pets, as well as blockages in the digestive system. Knowing that, keep plastic bags and wrappers out of your dog's reach and dispose of them properly in well-sealed containers to prevent accidents. When outside, be gentle, but firm in directing your dog away from other peoples’ piles of refuse.
5) Socks and Other Items with Fabric
There are also dogs that tend to chew on socks, slippers, and small pieces of clothing. This is a dangerous activity, as swallowed socks and small pieces of fabric can lead to choking or digestive issues. Keep your laundry and clothing items securely stored and out of your dog’s reach, and discourage your dog from playing with your clothes or footwear.
6) Various Household Items
Lastly, various household items like rubber bands, hair ties, and small hardware pieces can all prove to be choking hazards for your dog. If you tend to have these items lying around in your house, it’s best to clean them up and store them away from your pets. It would be an even better idea to have a small box or container just for keeping these accessories.
How to Respond if Your Dog Is Choking
In the unfortunate event that your dog does start choking, you’ll want to remain calm and act promptly. If your dog is conscious and choking, avoid attempting to remove the object manually, as this may push it further down their throat.
Instead, seek professional veterinary assistance to ensure the safety and well-being of your beloved companion. Keep your veterinarian's contact information readily available for unexpected events like these. Your quick and calm response can make all the difference in saving your dog's life in these moments.
It’s also worth considering taking a pet first aid course to equip yourself with the knowledge and skills needed in pet-related emergencies. For instance, you can learn how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on your dog specifically so that it won’t be hard to do if they actually into a choking accident.
The goal is to be proactive in identifying and immediately addressing common choking hazards in your environment. Doing so will create a safer environment for your furry companions and shield them from choking accidents and the like.