Saving the life of an animal is something we all hope we could do, but do we know how?
All of our pets eat too quickly, which is an understatement in my house as the dogs truly race each other to see who can finish first (now circumvented with slow feed bowls). We have all heard and seen our pets cough and hack until that single piece of food comes sputtering out, but, when is it that your pet is reverse sneezing, when is it that your pet is coughing and when is it that your pet is choking?
Reverse sneezing happens with dogs mainly, and in particular, small dogs. If your dog suddenly begins to literally sneeze inward - this is reverse sneezing. Your dog's air is being pulled in through their nose after a spasm in their throat by an irritant[i]. This can often be confused with choking as it truly looks and sounds like choking. The dog may continue this for a few minutes, but it should pass. If this becomes a reoccurring problem, you may want to see your veterinarian.
If your pet is coughing this could be an indication of many different problems. If your pet has been eating or playing with a toy or had something in their mouth right before they started coughing I would immediately suspect they may have something lodged and could be choking.
If your pet's gums turn blue or purple, if they are gagging and not making any noise, if they are pawing at their mouth or if your dog passes out - these are indications that your pet is choking and you need to calmly act. Immediately sweep the pet’s mouth with your finger to see if you can dislodge the stuck object. If they are still choking, stand behind them and lift their legs like a wheelbarrow to allow gravity to help. If they are still choking, perform a Heimlich maneuver on the dog by standing behind them and making a fist on their lower bellow below the rib cage (the soft part). Press your other hand into the fist and push to dislodge the object. It is recommended that you take your pet to the veterinarian afterward to assure they are okay and to ensure no damage was caused.
So, what can you do to help your pet from choking in the first place?
If your pet does eat too fast I would suggest purchasing a slow feeder bowl such as the one I purchased, the Martha Stewart Pets Skid Stop Slow Feeding Bowl.
If your pet has a tendency to shred and destroy toys I would also supervise them just you would a child with small toys or legos.
See you on the wild side,
[i] Becker, Dr. K. (2012, December 03). How to Recognize Reverse Sneezing in Your Pet. Retrieved from http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/12/03/reverse-sneezing.aspx