In horses, I have seen and treated choke too many times to count.
Choke seems to be a disease we primarily see in horses so this case is somewhat of a shock.
Actually, this case is a real shock because the patient was a 4-pound Yorkie named Khali.
Causes of Dog Choke
The causes of choke are the same regardless of the species.
Causes include neurologic dysfunction, tumors, rough-textured food, but overwhelmingly, the cause of choke is eating too fast.
And eating too fast is definitely the cause in this little Yorkie.
This little Yorkie tried to eat a treat about the size of a golf ball in record time.
Let me mention competition too! Anytime animals are fed in a group setting the risk of choke increases.
Because of competition, animals eat fast without chewing so that their friends don’t steal their food.
Treatment of Dog Choke
Treating dog choke requires anesthesia and an endoscope.
The endoscope is advanced to the level of the esophageal obstruction.
The obstruction, depending on what it is, is either pushed into the stomach or broken down and removed with a basket or set of graspers.
After resolution, I treat animals with pain medication, ulcer medication, and antibiotics to prevent aspiration pneumonia.
Preventing Dog Choke
- feed animals separately
- don’t give treats to groups of dogs
- feed soft or moistened foods
Risks of Endoscopy
The main risk associated with endoscopy in dog choke is perforation of the esophagus.
When dogs choke, the tissue approximating the obstruction becomes weak and friable.
Surgery is tricky because you must remove the obstruction meticulously to avoid perforating this weak, inflamed tissue.