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Pet First-aid Month


April is National Pet First-Aid Awareness Month. Wow, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? What is it they say about trying to say something three times fast? Certainly, the only thing that might seem more intimidating is actually performing first-aid on your pet. For example, do you know what to do if your dog starts choking? Most owners don’t, but learning could literally save your pet’s life if this dangerous situation ever presents itself.

The most important thing to remember in this and any other type of emergency with your pet is to stay as calm as you can. Certainly, if your dog is in trouble, you are going to feel anxious and upset. That is perfectly understandable, but with time of the essence, you cannot afford to indulge those feelings. The less you scream or cry and the more you focus on solving the problem, the better off your pet will be.

If your pet is choking, the worst thing you can do is nothing. If an object becomes lodged in your dog’s throat, it can block his airway. This in turn can cause him to suffocate before you can get him to a veterinary hospital.

A dog that is choking may drool, gag, or paw at his face. If your pet appears to be choking, open his mouth at once. With one hand on his upper jaw and one hand on his lower jaw, pry his mouth open and gently press his lips between your fingers and his teeth to prevent him from biting you. Even dogs that would never hurt their owners otherwise can react aggressively in a life-threatening situation.

If you can see the object your pet is choking on, try pulling it out. Bear in mind that your dog may not understand what is happening to him. He might even respond by trying to hold onto the object more tightly. If you cannot remove the item with your fingers, try using a flat spoon handle to pry it out of his grasp – and subsequently out of his throat.

Do not simply reach into your pet’s mouth and pull on any object you may feel. Dogs have small bones that support the base of their tongues. If you cannot remove the object, try lifting your dog with his head facing downwards. In some cases this simple move can help dislodge the offending object. If it does not, however, you will need to perform a modified version of the Heimlich maneuver on your pet.

With your pet standing in front of you, grasp hold of his waist. Next, make a fist and place it just behind his ribs. Compress his abdomen three times in quick, upward motions. When you are done, check his mouth to see if the maneuver was successful before repeating it.
Once you have stopped your dog from choking, head to your veterinary hospital to get your pet checked out. Even if he appears fine, it is important to make sure that he didn’t suffer any internal injuries. The old saying only sounds cliché – it is truly better to be safe than to be sorry.

Choking can be a terrifying experience for both you and your pet. Fortunately, this canine emergency is highly preventable. Dogs can choke on a variety of items. From children’s toys and game pieces to jewelry and craft items, any small object can become lodged in your dog’s throat if it goes into his mouth. For this reason the best way you can prevent choking is keeping tiny items like these out of your pet’s reach.

It is important to understand that even things that belong to your pet can lead to choking if owners aren’t careful. First and foremost, stuffed toys for pets should never contain small objects like buttons or eyes that could break off. Toys also shouldn’t have any holes that can expose the stuffing. If swallowed, this material can also cause choking as well as intestinal problems.

Toys should always be the proper size for your pet. A Labrador retriever, for example, needs much larger toys than a Yorkshire terrier does. Nylabone’s line of BIG Chews is ideal for larger pets. If your dog enjoys playing ball, be sure that the ball you use for the game isn’t small enough to be swallowed. Like stuffed toys, balls shouldn’t contain small bells or other noisemakers that could be swallowed if your pet is able to remove them.

It can be easy to forget how little your adult dog once was, but it is also important to say goodbye to toys that he has outgrown. Your adult Lab may still love his Nylabone Puppy Rubber Teether just as much now as he did when he was just a few weeks old, but it is important to phase out smaller toys as your pet gets bigger. Consider getting him a DuraChew Galileo Bone once he reaches his full size.

Perform regular checks on all your dog’s toys. Toss anything that has become sharp, fractured, or otherwise dangerous. The best way to deal save your dog from choking is by preventing this veterinary emergency from happening in the first place.

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