Pet Choking: Awareness, Education & Prevention

June 17, 2024
By: Editorial Team

National Pet Choking Prevention Day, observed annually on June 22nd, serves as a crucial reminder for pet owners to be proactive in preventing choking incidents. Veterinarians report over 200,000 pet choking cases every year, and this figure doesn’t even include unreported incidents. Thankfully, most choking hazards are preventable with a little awareness, education and prevention strategies. Today, we’re breaking down pet choking: awareness, education & prevention to help you keep your pet safe!

Pet Choking: Awareness

The type of choking hazard can vary depending on the size and species of your pet. Yet, the following culprits tend to be the most common causes of accidental choking in pets:

dog walker ct shoreline
Something as seemingly harmless as a leaf can become a choking hazard
  • Food Items: Small bones, rawhide chews, hard treats, and even certain fruits and vegetables like carrots or grapes can get lodged in a pet’s throat.
  • Toys: Toys with small parts, squeakers, or pieces that can be chewed off and swallowed pose a significant risk.
  • Household Items: Coins, rubber bands, paper clips, and other small objects left lying around can be easily picked up by curious pets.
  • Clothing: Buttons, zippers, and other accessories that detach from clothing can be choking hazards.
  • Outdoor Hazards: Sticks, stones, leaves, small prey animals, and other debris found during walks or playtime can be accidentally swallowed.

pet choking: Education

Knowing the signs of choking and being prepared to act can be life-saving. The most common signs of pet choking include the following:

dog walking ct shoreline
Toys can become hazards when they fray and when squeakers and filling are exposed
  • Respiratory Distress: This is the most crucial sign. Look for difficulty breathing, labored breaths, or wheezing.
  • Pawing at the Mouth: This is a frantic attempt to remove the object lodged in their throat.
  • Coughing: Coughing is a natural reflex to expel the object, but it might be ineffective if something is stuck.
  • Gagging or Retching: Similar to coughing, this is the body’s attempt to dislodge the object.
  • Salivation: Excessive drooling can be a sign of distress and difficulty swallowing.
  • Blue Mucous Membranes (Cyanosis): This is a late-stage sign indicating a severe lack of oxygen. If you see gums or tongue turning blue, immediate action is necessary.
  • Panic or Anxiety: Pets will often display frantic behavior, pacing, or showing signs of extreme distress. They may pace back and forth, call attention to themselves by rubbing up against their caregiver, and may rub their muzzles on flooring or carpeting in an effort to dislodge the item.

If your pet chokes – even if you were able to remove the items without loss of consciousness – please see your veterinarian. Your pet may have aspirated small pieces and could need additional care to prevent airway damage and/or infection.

pet choking: Preventive Measures

By taking some simple steps, you can significantly reduce the risk of choking incidents for your pet:

dog old saybrook
Even toys that are marketed as indestructible can become choking hazards
  • Supervision is Key: Always supervise your pet when they’re eating or playing with toys. This allows you to intervene quickly if they start chewing on something inappropriate.
  • Safe Feeding Practices: Avoid giving your pet bones or treats that can splinter or break into small pieces. Opt for pet-safe chews and treats designed for their size and chewing style.
  • Pet-Proof Your Home: Scan your living space for potential choking hazards. Keep small objects, medications, and cleaning supplies out of reach. Secure electrical cords and wires to prevent chewing.
  • Know Your Pet’s Limits: Be mindful of your pet’s individual characteristics. If your dog is a notorious chewer, avoid giving them toys with soft, easily destroyed parts.
  • Get Training: Attend a Pet First Aid & CPR class and/or familiarize yourself with the Heimlich maneuver for pets. Keep the contact information for your nearest emergency vet handy.

pet choking: Toys & Chews

dog toys old saybrook
Avoid choking hazards like raw hide – they are not worth the risk!

Always select toys that are appropriate for your pet’s size and chewing habits. Instead, choose sturdy toys that don’t have small, detachable parts that could be swallowed. Regularly inspect toys for wear and tear and discard any damaged ones.

Check out Bow Wow Labs‘ products specifically designed to prevent choking and aspiration that may occur when a dog’s bully sticks and other treats get too small. Dr. Judy Morgan has partnered with Bow Wow Labs to bring much-needed attention to preventable choking in pets, particularly dogs.

Learn more here.

dog walking dog walker ct shoreline
dogs old saybrook

At Shoreline Happy Paws, we make choking prevention a priority. For this reason, we will never leave dogs chewing on bones or bully sticks between visits, do our best to puppy-proof before we leave visits, and always keep an eye out for household hazards and toys that may pose a threat. When you hire our team of professional pet care providers, you can trust that we have your pet’s best interest at heart and are actively working to keep them safe during visits. We’re trained in pet first aid and CRP because we believe that an immediate response is the best response.

New Shoreline Happy Paws clients can create an account. We will be in touch to further discuss your needs and set you, your family, and your pet(s) up for success. Existing clients may book dog walking, dog hiking, or pet sitting services by logging in to your client profile.

Shoreline Happy Paws serves the following areas of the Connecticut Shoreline:

  • Old Saybrook
  • Essex, Ivoryton & Centerbrook
  • Deep River
  • Chester
  • Westbrook
  • Clinton
  • Old Lyme
  • East Lyme
  • Niantic

Certain Parts and Certain Service Hours in:

  • Lyme and Madison
  • Waterford, New London, Groton
  • Uncasville, Gales Ferry, Mystic, Noank

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