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In this lesson, we'll be piggybacking off what you learned in the last lesson, as the steps for providing first aid to an unconscious choking dog or cat will be similar to that of a conscious choking pet. However, there are still some crucial differences to be aware of.

If your dog or cat becomes unconscious at any point, or if you found your pet that way, the first thing you'll want to do is check her mouth and look for an object that may be lodged in her throat.

Pro Tip #1: Even though your pet is unconscious, this doesn't mean you still cannot get bitten inadvertently or push the object further in and getting it more stuck in the process. Take extra care with this step and keep those two things in mind.

Remember, to look into your pet's mouth, you'll need to pry her jaws open, grasp her tongue, and pull it forward. You likely recall from the last lesson that trying to grab a slippery tongue is no easy task. To make it easier, use a piece of gauze or the sleeve of your shirt to pull the tongue forward.

Once you've done that, use your finger to check the back of her mouth and try to dislodge the object.

Pro Tip #2: As Dr. Bobbi points out in the video, you'll want to be in front of your dog, rather than behind. Dr. Bobbi is in that position simply so you can see the way she's performing each technique.

How to Perform Rescue Breaths

If your pet becomes unconscious and stops breathing, you'll then need to begin performing rescue breaths. To give rescue breaths, follow the steps below.

1. Wrap one hand around your pet's mouth/snout and hold it closed.

2. Cover your pet's nostrils completely with your mouth.

Pro Tip #3: In the video, you may have noticed that Dr. Bobbi didn't do this, as her dog, Callie, was conscious and you could do some harm performing this maneuver on a dog that is breathing and isn't choking.

3. If you are providing aid to a smaller dog or a cat, you may be able to get your entire mouth over your pet's nostrils and mouth, just as first responders often do with infants and babies. This works best as it creates a better seal and helps ensure the effectiveness of each rescue breath.

4. Give 5 quick rescue breath breaths. As you perform each rescue breath, make sure you're looking at your pet's chest. You should notice a visible rise and fall with every rescue breath you provide. If you don't see the chest rise and fall, it won't be effective, and you should try to create a better seal.

5. After 5 rescue breaths with visible chest rise and fall, perform the abdominal thrusts or back blows that you learned in the last lesson.

Pro Tip #4: As you do all of this, you should also be monitoring your pet's pulse rate at the same time. If at any time you notice that your pet's pulse disappears, you'll need to begin CPR as soon as possible, which you'll learn in a subsequent lesson.

How many times do you need to perform this sequence? As often as necessary, meaning until the object is dislodged. And if you do succeed in dislodging the object that your pet was choking on, you'll still want to take her in to see a veterinarian, as she may have injured her lungs or the back of her throat.

To recap, the steps to perform on an unconscious choking pet are as follows:

  1. Check the mouth and try to dislodge the object.
  2. Perform 5 rescue breaths.
  3. Perform 5 abdominal thrusts or back blows.
  4. Repeat as needed.
  5. Check the pulse rate every 2 cycles – check mouth, rescue breaths, and ab thrusts or back blows.
  6. Perform CPR if you discover your pet has no pulse.

In the last lesson, we advised you to alternate between abdominal thrusts and back blows, and this is still a good idea. It's difficult to know which will work best and doing both may improve your chances of a favorable outcome. Simply perform one technique during the first cycle and the other during the second, and then check for a pulse.