Dabl at Home
11 Unexpected Choking Hazards For Pets That May Be In Your Home Right Now
The best way to prevent your dog from choking is to limit his access to possible choking hazards!
Editor’s Note: In case of emergency, please contact a veterinarian or proceed to your nearest veterinary clinic for immediate assistance.
A family in Florida was shocked and heartbroken after waking up on New Year’s Day to find their beloved labrador retriever puppy, Scout, had suffocated on a chip bag during the night. While some choking hazards are obvious, the poor labrador’s owners (and most pet owners) never would have imagined that a chip bag being left out overnight could result in their pet’s death. The lab’s owner, Holly Best, told media that she believes the curious puppy got his head stuck in the chip bag, which then created a vacuum seal around the dog’s neck that became progressively tighter with the dog’s every breath. In the wake of their beloved puppy’s death, Scout’s family is telling his story in the hopes that it will prevent other pets from suffering the same fate.
Choking and suffocation are life-threatening conditions that need to be treated urgently. If your dog begins choking, you will need to act quickly to save his life. The first step is to restrain your dog, as a choking dog may panic and try to bite. If your dog has an object wrapped around his neck, use scissors to immediately cut it off. If there is nothing wrapped around your dog’s neck, you’ll want to look inside his mouth to look for possible obstructions. You can use your finger to do a gentle sweep of your dog’s mouth and use a large pair of tweezers to retrieve or break up any foreign objects you can see. Just be careful to never push an object that’s lodged at the back of your dog’s throat and never stick your fingers down your dog’s throat, as you could cause tissue damage. If you can’t see a foreign object, your next step is to perform the Heimlich maneuver on your pet. (Click here to learn how to safely perform the Heimlich maneuver on pets so you are prepared to act in the event your dog begins to choke.) If you can’t put an end to your dog’s choking within one or two minutes, proceed to your nearest emergency vet for immediate treatment. Immediate veterinary intervention could mean the difference between life and death. Even if you are able to resolve your dog’s choking at home, he should still be examined by a veterinarian to assess any damage the incident could have caused.
Of course, the best treatment for choking is prevention. While some choking hazards may be obvious, others are a bit unexpected. You can prevent your dog from choking or suffocating with proper supervision while your dog plays with toys or chews on bones, such as bully sticks and rawhides. In addition, you can limit your dog’s access to possible choking hazards you may not have thought of, such as these 11 objects that are likely in your home right now!
1.) Plastic Bags & Snack Bags
Through Scout’s tragic story, we’ve learned that plastic bags and snack bags can cause suffocation in dogs. But this doesn’t just apply to bags of chips. Any sort of individual snack bags or plastic bags you get from places like grocery stores should be kept out of reach from your pet.
2.) Cooked Bones
Cooked bones are extremely dangerous to dogs for many reasons! Not only can small bones get stuck in your dog’s throat, but cooked bones can splinter into smaller, sharp pieces. The smaller pieces can then become choking hazards or can do significant damage to your dog’s mouth, throat, and the lining of the digestive system.
Gristle is the tough cartilaginous, tendinous, or fibrous matter that often comes off popular table meats like chicken or steak. Gristle is difficult to chew and is one of the most common things dogs choke on each year. But despite its dangers, many people like to give their dogs gristle as a treat.
4.) Plastic Wrap
Similar to plastic bags, plastic wrap is also extremely dangerous. Dogs are most likely to encounter plastic wrap if they get a chance to dig through the trash. Plastic wrap poses significant dangers because it can get stuck around your dog’s face or neck, and can easily become lodged in your dog’s throat if swallowed.
5.) Children’s Toys
Anyone with young kids knows that it’s nearly impossible to keep toys off the floor. But dogs are playful and curious creatures and might mistake your children’s toys for being their own. Dogs also explore the world through taste and smell and may put toys in their mouth out of curiosity. Therefore, it’s important to be on the lookout for small parts, such as board game pieces, legos, and doll accessories, that could become choking hazards.
6.) Chew Toys, Balls, & Bones
It sounds counterintuitive, but your dog’s toys and treats could become choking hazards even though they were made for his enjoyment. Here are a few examples: Chewable treats like rawhide bones and bully sticks can have pieces break off that become lodged in your dog’s throat. Sticks your dog finds outside can also be dangerous because they can impale your dog’s mouth as she plays and could break into smaller pieces that become choking hazards. If you buy your dog a ball that’s too small, meaning any ball that can fit past your dog’s front teeth, it’s a choking hazard. And if your dog likes to rip squeaky plush toys to shreds, the toy’s stuffing and squeaker could also cause choking. While we don’t want to tell you to never let your dog have toys or bones, we do recommend supervising your dog while he plays or chews to be on the lookout for possible choking hazards and so that you can intervene quickly if an emergency takes place.
You wouldn’t think something as soft and harmless as bread could pose a choking risk, but it most certainly can! When bread is eaten, it naturally expands and clumps together. This is especially problematic for eager dogs who like to swallow their food whole instead of properly chewing it first.
8.) Hard Candy
While we typically aren’t sharing hard candy with our pets, it smells good and is very tempting to our dogs. Many dogs will jump at the opportunity to try a piece of hard candy if given an opportunity, such as if a piece is dropped on the floor or if they can steal a piece from a decorative bowl on your coffee table. Because of the candy’s small size, it can easily become lodged in your dog’s throat.
It sounds weird, but many dogs like to eat rocks for a variety of reasons, ranging from pure curiosity to trying to soothe an upset stomach. Pay attention to your dog when he plays outside and during walks to see if he tries to eat rocks. Eating rocks can cause choking or can create obstructions in your dog’s intestines, both of which are life-threatening emergencies.
10.) String Items
Some dogs will simply eat everything! Another possible hazard that can cause choking, intestinal blockages, and digestive upset is string items around the house. By string items, we mean products like dental floss, yarn, and even hair bands that your dog may try to chew or play with.
11.) Fabric Softener Sheets
While the risk of choking isn’t insanely high here, many dogs are attracted to the smell of fabric softener sheets and will quickly snatch them up if given the opportunity. If swallowed whole, the fabric softener sheets could cause your dog to choke. However, it’s more likely that the chemicals used in the fabric softener sheets will make your pet sick.