Q. I have recently had an incident with my dog who began to choke on a treat. I picked her up and moved her and she continued to cough. When I put her down seconds later, she couldn't stand, and I feared she was struggling to breath. Fortunately, she managed to dislodge the obstruction herself. There was no time to get her to a vet so what advice can you give me if this were to happen again?
A. Major advice here is to make sure your diagnosis is correct.
Similar symptoms (even appearing fairly acute) can be caused by lung disease/ heart disease/ a stroke and other problems. So first advice, as ever, is to be sure of the diagnosis before taking any action.
Having said this, it is a well-known emergency procedure to dislodge a foreign body in a human’s throat and the treatment is similar for a dog. If the dog is conscious raise the dog's hind end and forcibly (but not so you break the ribs) compress the sternum (the midline front of the chest at the bottom of the ribcage). In large dogs straddle them, compress the sternum whilst an assistant raises the hind end or lowers the head and neck. If the dog is unconscious lie the dog on his right side, with the head down and compress the chest and abdomen.
If these techniques are not successful immediately and there is a partial blockage, you will need to rush your dog to a vet. Oxygen therapy together with a tracheostomy (a tube into the windpipe below the foreign body) may be successful together with an endoscopy or surgery to remove a foreign body.
As a cause of death, blockage or collapse due to a foreign body, is very rare.