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Can my dog choke on food? #ASKHSSA

HSSA's Pet Safety and First Aid Classes can help you prevent medical emergencies like these.

What to watch out for and how to prevent it from happening.

Dogs love to eat, who doesn’t? The glee that most dogs exhibit as they gallop headlong towards a bowl of chow makes this fact evident. Some dogs seem to go into an almost trance-like state as they eat their dinner. It can be enough to make one wonder “can my dog choke while eating?”

The danger is real.

For most dogs, choking on food is unlikely, though our Animal Services Veterinarian, Dr. Overton, was quick to point out a few important exceptions. There are medical issues that can make swallowing food difficult for some dogs, but generally, in these cases, the pet owner is aware of the condition and can take measures to reduce the likelihood that choking will occur.

Pump the brakes.

Another group of dogs who are more susceptible to choking are those dogs that don’t just woof down their dinner with abandon, but literally inhale it. Dogs that eat too quickly do have the potential to choke on their food.  Luckily, there’s a simple and inexpensive solution to correct this behavior. Specialized dog food bowls known as ‘slow feed’ or ‘puzzle feed’ dog bowls help dogs that eat too fast slow down and take smaller bites.

Hot dogs not for dogs.

There is also the potential with dogs to choke on food when that food is not appropriate for your pooch. Table scraps and human foods, bones (cooked or raw), gristle, and fat are all dangerous as they are potential choking hazards for dogs. Not to mention the many human foods that are poisonous to dogs or that can cause an allergic reaction as these can also lead to choking.  Always feed your dog approved and age-appropriate dog food!

Chew on this.

Dog treats are a point of contention among many dog owners and there are many commercially available dog treats on the market. In general, most of these are not ideal – especially treats designed to be chewed and gnawed on by dogs. These can break apart or can be small enough for a dog to attempt to swallow but by their very nature, chews are tough and can be difficult to dislodge if stuck in a dog’s throat. Aside from the choking risk, many chews are actually too hard for dogs and can damage their teeth! As with the food you select for your pup, ensure that the treats you provide for you dog are a safe, healthy option.

Prevention is key.

We always recommend speaking with a veterinarian when deciding on your pet’s diet and health. We also recommend being well-equipped to handle a pet’s medical emergencies, if and when the need arises. The Humane Society of Southern Arizona offers Pet Safety and First Aid classes to help ensure pet owners are ready in the case of a pet emergency and to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Learn more about HSSA Pet Safety and First Aid Classes, available classes, and to sign-up, click here.