How to Dislodge a Ball if Your Dog is Choking
A dog choking is a severe medical issue that could be fatal.
Owners with dogs who love their balls need to read this information to learn how to remove a ball from a dog’s airway.
First, let’s give credit where it’s due.
On October 18, 2021, at West Hills Animal Hospital and Emergency Center in Huntington, NY, Dr. Kristie Williams saved the life of two separate dogs who came in choking after swallowing balls they had been playing with.
Dr. William’s heroically removed the balls from both patients, and they both survived.
Below is footage of Dr. Williams’ straddling a Pit Bull mix named Hansel and applying pressure to the outside of the throat to release the ball.
Hansel had turned blue from oxygen deprivation, and owner, Kelly Skinner, permitted the animal hospital to share her story to educate other dog owners.
Most vets are taught to use their hands or forceps to retrieve a ball from the back of a dog’s throat. This method has a high failure rate, and a dog may need an emergency tracheotomy to prevent suffocation if successful.
Dr. Williams had read about an external extraction technique but had never used it until the strange day when two dogs came in back to back choking on swallowed balls.
The external extraction of a swallowed ball can be performed by owners at home and could save a choking dog’s life.
This technique is for dogs with a blocked airway from a ball or similar object and is recommended on unconscious dogs.
If your dog is conscious, it may squirm or bite during the maneuver as it struggles to breathe.
Below is the eXternal eXtraction Technique broken down into five steps.
Place your dog on its back on the floor and straddle them. Tilt your dog’s head towards the floor. Their airway needs to be parallel to the floor.
Locate the trachea, ball location, and mandible.
The trachea (airway) is the ringed tube where the throat connects to the lungs, the ball location will be a bulge, and the mandible is the v-shaped jaw bone.
Make an open diamond shape with your hands. Then place your thumbs on either side of the trachea and below the ball.
Grip the “V” of the jaw bone with your fingers at the cheeks or lips to secure your dog’s mouth and head.
Use a J-stroke pattern with your thumbs to dislodge and push the ball up and out of your dog’s airway.
Remove the ball from your dog’s mouth.
If your dog is not breathing after removing the ball, begin CPR and immediately get to an emergency veterinarian hospital.
If the ball is removed successfully, make an appointment with your regular veterinarian to check your dog’s trachea for damage or trauma.
Watch the eXternal eXtraction Technique Demonstrated
How to Prevent a Dog Choking on a Ball
Prevention is the best way to eliminate a life-threatening situation of a ball or toy being swallowed by a dog.
The size of toys and chews should be appropriate for your dog’s breed and size.
Check toys regularly for cracks, punctures, rips, etc.
Provide your dog with balls that have holes in the center.
If these balls get swallowed, air can still pass through them, which buys you more time to extract the ball and get your dog help.
Last but not least, supervise your dog with toys and treats.
Accidents happen and can’t always be prevented, but knowledge can help owners be prepared for unexpected emergencies.