If an animal is suffocating, it will often panic. A dog may paw at its mouth if something is lodged, though this does not necessarily mean it is choking. Another suspicious sign of choking is an unresponsive or unconscious dog; in these cases, check the throat and mouth for foreign objects. Carefully open the animal’s mouth and see if there are any objects in the oral cavity. If so, instruct the owner to use their pinky finger and do a side-to-side sweep to try and dislodge the object. If they can see the object but are unable to put their fingers in the animal’s mouth, they can try to remove it with a pair of salad tongs, tweezers, needle nose pliers, etc.
If the object is not visible, they may need to perform back blows or abdominal thrusts to dislodge the object from the animal’s airway. Use the following steps for an animal that is small enough that you can hold them on your forearm such as the picture below. Hold the animal on your arm with their head facing down. This will allow gravity to help draw the object out. Next, use the palm of your hand and hit the animal between the shoulder blades 4 times. After the 4th time, recheck the animal’s airway to see if the object has come up far enough to reach it. If it has not, repeat the preceding steps again.
For an animal that is too large to hold on your arm you will need to perform abdominal thrusts to attempt to dislodge the object. Stand over the animal and put your arms around the animal’s abdomen, pull upward forcefully 4 times then check the airway again. If the object has become dislodged, make sure to remove it from the oral cavity. If the object is still obstructed, repeat 4 more thrusts. Repeat until the object has been dislodged. Once you have removed the object check for breathing. If the animal is not breathing begin CPR