Choking In Dog

Did you know that choking in dogs can be a life-threatening emergency? Our furry friends are notorious chewers, and sometimes things can go wrong. Recognizing the signs of choking in dogs is crucial to saving their lives. When a dog chokes, it’s not just their throat that’s affected; their ability to breathe is compromised too. That’s why knowing how to respond quickly is essential.

Choking incidents can happen unexpectedly, especially if your dog is an enthusiastic chewer. Whether it’s a small toy or a piece of food lodged in their mouth, time is of the essence.

So, let’s dive right into understanding the dangers of choking and how you can ensure your four-legged companion stays safe!

Signs and Causes of Dog Choking

Choking in dogs can be a distressing experience for both the pet and their owner. It is important to recognize the signs of choking and understand the common causes to ensure prompt action and prevent potential complications.

Signs of Choking in Dogs

  • One of the most noticeable signs that your dog may be choking is pawing at their mouth or face. This is an instinctive response as they try to dislodge whatever is obstructing their airway.
  • Difficulty breathing is another telltale sign. You may notice your dog gasping for air, wheezing, or making unusual sounds while trying to breathe.
  • Coughing can also indicate that something is stuck in your dog’s throat. It may be a dry cough or accompanied by gagging.
  • In severe cases, you may observe blue gums or tongue due to lack of oxygen reaching vital organs.

Causes of Dog Choking Dogs can choke on various objects, food items, or even suffer from conditions that lead to choking episodes. Understanding these causes can help prevent such incidents:

  1. Foreign Objects: Dogs are curious creatures and tend to explore their surroundings with their mouths. They can accidentally swallow items that are too large or get stuck in their throat, leading to choking. Common culprits include bones, toys, balls, sticks, or small household objects.
  2. food: Dogs have voracious appetites and sometimes gulp down food without properly chewing it. This increases the risk of choking on chunks of food that get lodged in their windpipe.
  3. Small Breeds: Smaller breeds are more prone to choking due to their size. Their smaller airways make them more susceptible to blockages from objects or food items.
  4. Kennel Cough: Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs caused by various viruses and bacteria like Bordetella bronchiseptica. This condition can cause coughing fits, which may lead to choking episodes if the dog is unable to clear their airway.

It is important to note that choking in dogs can be a life-threatening emergency. If you suspect your dog is choking, it is crucial to act quickly and seek veterinary assistance. However, it’s essential to avoid blindly attempting any intervention that may worsen the situation. Instead, follow these steps:

  1. Assess the Situation: Stay calm and assess the severity of the choking episode. Observe your dog’s breathing and behavior closely.
  2. Check for Visible Obstructions: If you can see an object obstructing your dog’s airway and it is easily accessible, carefully try to remove it using tweezers or pliers.
  3. Perform Canine Heimlich Maneuver: For larger dogs, stand behind them and place your hands just below their ribcage. Apply firm upward pressure in a quick motion several times until the object dislodges or until you reach professional help.
  4. Seek Veterinary Assistance: Regardless of whether you successfully remove the obstruction or not, contact your veterinarian immediately for further guidance and potential examination.

By being aware of the signs of choking in dogs and understanding its common causes, you can take proactive measures to prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place.

Immediate Steps to Take if Your Dog is Choking

When your beloved furry friend starts choking, it can be a terrifying experience. But staying calm and taking immediate action can make all the difference in saving their life. Here are some crucial steps to follow if your dog is choking:

Assess the Situation

The first thing you need to do is assess the situation. Stay calm and carefully observe your dog’s behavior. Are they displaying signs of distress? Is there an obvious obstruction in their airway? Taking a moment to evaluate the situation will help you determine the best course of action.

Gently Remove the Obstruction

If your dog is conscious but struggling to breathe, try gently removing the obstruction with your fingers. However, it’s important to exercise caution while doing this as you don’t want to push the object further down their throat or cause any harm. If you can easily reach and safely remove the object, proceed cautiously.

Seek Veterinary Assistance

In some cases, the object causing choking may be lodged deep within your dog’s airway and cannot be easily removed without professional help. If you’re unable to dislodge the obstruction or if your dog becomes unconscious during this process, waste no time and seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Remember that time is of utmost importance when dealing with a choking dog. The longer an object remains lodged in their throat, the greater the risk of severe complications or even death. Therefore, it’s essential not to delay seeking professional help.

Additional Tips

While waiting for veterinary assistance or on your way to the clinic, there are a few additional measures you can take:

  • Performing modified Heimlich maneuver: If you have been trained in pet CPR techniques or instructed by a veterinarian over phone call, you may attempt performing a modified Heimlich maneuver on your dog.
  • Checking for breathing: Monitor your dog’s breathing closely throughout this ordeal. If they stop breathing, you may need to perform rescue breaths or CPR. However, it’s crucial to receive proper guidance before attempting these techniques.
  • Remaining calm and reassuring: Dogs can sense your emotions, so it’s important to remain calm and provide reassurance. Your presence and soothing voice can help alleviate their anxiety during this distressing situation.

How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a Large Dog

Choking In Dog

Performing the Heimlich maneuver on a large dog can be a life-saving technique when your furry friend is choking. It’s essential to act quickly and effectively to dislodge the object obstructing their airway. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to perform this maneuver properly:

  1. Stand behind your dog and place your hands just below their ribcage.
    1. Position yourself in a way that allows you to have full control and stability while performing the maneuver.
    1. Make sure your grip is firm but not too tight, as excessive force could harm your dog.
  2. Apply firm upward pressure using quick thrusts until the object is dislodged or help arrives.
    1. Use both hands to exert pressure in an upward motion towards the dog’s diaphragm.
    1. Perform quick thrusts rather than steady pressure, as this helps create enough force to expel the obstruction.
    1. Continue with these thrusts until either the object comes out or professional assistance arrives.
  3. Be cautious not to apply excessive force that could harm your dog.
    1. While it’s crucial to provide enough pressure for effective results, avoid using excessive force that may cause injury.
    1. Pay close attention to any signs of distress or discomfort from your dog during the process.

Remember, if you are unsure about performing the Heimlich maneuver on your own, seek immediate veterinary assistance. They will guide you through the steps over the phone while you wait for professional help.

It’s important always to stay calm during these situations as dogs can sense anxiety and become more agitated themselves. Keep reassuring them with soothing words and gentle strokes while performing the procedure.

If you find that applying the Heimlich maneuver doesn’t dislodge the object successfully, consider trying other techniques such as:

  • Using gravity: Carefully tilt your dog’s head downwards to encourage the object to slide out.
  • Performing chest compressions: Place your dog on their side and apply pressure to their chest using both hands.
  • Sweeping the mouth: If you can see the object obstructing the airway, use your fingers or a pair of tweezers to gently remove it.

Remember, these alternative techniques should only be attempted if you are confident in doing so. Otherwise, it is best to wait for professional help.

By being prepared and knowledgeable about how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a large dog, you can potentially save their life during a choking emergency. Practice these steps regularly so that you can act swiftly and confidently when every second counts.

First Aid for a Choking Medium or Small Dog

Choking incidents can be terrifying for dog owners, but knowing how to perform first aid can make all the difference in saving your furry friend’s life.

Applying Upward Pressure on the Ribcage

For medium-sized dogs, it’s crucial to act quickly and efficiently when they are choking. Start by standing behind your dog and place both hands just below their ribcage. Apply firm upward pressure, using your hands as a fulcrum to dislodge any obstruction in their airway. This technique helps create enough force to expel the stuck object without causing harm to your pet.

Holding Small Dogs Upside Down

Small breeds require extra care when performing first aid for choking. If you have a small dog that is struggling to breathe due to an obstruction, you may need to hold them upside down while applying gentle pressure on their abdomen. This method allows gravity to assist in dislodging the blockage from their airway.

Monitoring Your Dog Closely

Once you have successfully cleared the obstruction and restored your dog’s breathing, it is essential to closely monitor them. Some objects may cause internal injuries that are not immediately apparent. Keep an eye out for signs of distress such as coughing, difficulty breathing, or changes in behavior. If any concerning symptoms persist, seek veterinary assistance promptly.

Remember that these first aid techniques are meant as initial measures and should never replace professional veterinary care. It is vital to contact your veterinarian immediately after performing any emergency procedures on your pet.

In some cases, additional interventions may be necessary if the obstruction persists or if your dog loses consciousness during the choking incident. These interventions include:

  • Performing canine Heimlich maneuver: Similar to how it is performed on humans, this technique involves applying abdominal pressure just below the ribcage to expel the obstruction.
  • Checking for a visible object: If you can see the object causing the choking, carefully attempt to remove it using tweezers or your fingers. Be cautious not to push it further down the throat.
  • Administering rescue breaths: If your dog is not breathing, you may need to provide rescue breaths by closing their mouth and gently blowing into their nose.

Remember, every second counts during a choking incident. The quicker you act, the higher the chances of saving your dog’s life. However, always prioritize your safety and be mindful of your dog’s size and potential reactions.

The Heimlich Maneuver for Cats and Dogs

Performing the Heimlich maneuver on cats and dogs can be a life-saving technique in emergency situations when they are choking. While the maneuver is similar for both cats and small dogs, it is important to exercise extra care when dealing with feline companions due to their delicate nature.

If your pet has been choking, even if they seem fine afterward, it is crucial to take them to a veterinarian immediately for evaluation. Choking can cause damage to their airway or lead to other complications that may not be immediately apparent. Seeking professional help ensures that any underlying issues are addressed promptly.

To perform the Heimlich maneuver on a cat or dog, proper training from a veterinarian is essential. They can equip pet owners with the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out these maneuvers safely. Learning from experts helps ensure you do not inadvertently harm your beloved pets while trying to help them.

When performing the Heimlich maneuver on cats or small dogs, follow these steps:

  1. Approach your pet calmly and assess the situation. Look for signs of distress such as coughing or difficulty breathing.
  2. If your pet is conscious but unable to breathe properly, position yourself behind them.
  3. Place one hand just below their ribcage and make a fist.
  4. With your other hand, wrap it around your first hand’s knuckles.
  5. Apply firm upward pressure towards their diaphragm using quick thrusts.
  6. Be cautious not to apply excessive force that could cause injury.

For larger dogs, modifications may be necessary due to their size:

  1. Stand behind your dog and place your arms around their abdomen.
  2. Clasp your hands together just above their belly button area.
  3. Perform inward and upward thrusts with enough force but without causing harm.

Remember that performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) alongside the Heimlich maneuver may be necessary in severe cases. If your pet becomes unconscious, you can alternate between chest compressions and the Heimlich maneuver to maintain circulation and clear their airway.

In emergency situations, time is of the essence. Knowing how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on cats and dogs can make a significant difference in providing immediate help until professional veterinary care is available. By taking the initiative to learn these life-saving techniques, you become better equipped to handle unexpected choking incidents that could potentially save your pet’s life.

What to Do When the Heimlich Maneuver Doesn’t Work

Choking In Dog

If you find yourself in a situation where your dog is choking and the Heimlich maneuver fails to dislodge the obstruction, it’s important not to panic. Remaining calm is crucial as you continue your efforts until professional help arrives. Here are some steps you can take when faced with this distressing situation:

  1. Contact your veterinarian or emergency animal clinic: As soon as you realize that the Heimlich maneuver hasn’t resolved the choking, reach out for expert guidance. Inform them about the critical situation your dog is in, providing as much detail as possible.
  2. Follow their instructions: Once you’re connected with a veterinary professional, they may provide further instructions tailored to your specific circumstances. They might ask about the size of your dog, the type of object they choked on, and any visible signs of distress or injury.
  3. Consider transporting your dog for immediate medical attention: Depending on the severity of the choking incident and their assessment over the phone, they might advise bringing your dog in for urgent veterinary care. In such cases, time is of utmost importance.
  4. Be prepared during transportation: While preparing to transport your choking dog to the veterinary clinic or hospital, ensure their safety and comfort during transit. Secure them properly in a carrier or use other appropriate restraints to prevent further injuries or complications.
  5. Drive safely but urgently: Keep calm while driving and focus on getting your pet to professional help as quickly as possible without compromising road safety rules. If necessary, have someone accompany you in case immediate intervention is required during travel.
  6. Avoid unnecessary delays: Upon arrival at the veterinary facility, inform them immediately about your pet’s condition and any updates since speaking with them over the phone. This will allow them to prepare for urgent treatment upon admission.
  7. Trust professional expertise: Once at the clinic, your dog will be in the hands of skilled veterinary professionals who have experience dealing with choking incidents. They will assess the situation and provide appropriate medical interventions to ensure your pet’s safety and well-being.
  8. Stay informed and involved: While your dog is receiving treatment, stay connected with the veterinarian or their team. Ask questions to understand the procedures being performed, the expected outcomes, and any follow-up care required.

Remember, choking incidents can be life-threatening for dogs; therefore, it’s crucial not to hesitate when seeking professional help. By promptly contacting a veterinarian or emergency animal clinic after failed attempts at the Heimlich maneuver, you increase the chances of a successful outcome for your beloved furry friend.


In conclusion, ensuring your dog’s safety should always be a top priority. By being aware of the signs and causes of dog choking, you can take immediate steps to help your furry friend in distress.

Remember that prevention is key in avoiding choking incidents altogether. Keep small objects out of reach from your pets, supervise them during mealtime, and avoid giving them bones or toys that may easily break apart.

To further ensure your dog’s safety and well-being, consult with a veterinarian for proper guidance on first aid techniques for choking incidents. They can provide personalized advice based on your pet’s specific needs.


Can I perform CPR on my dog if they are unconscious after choking?

Yes, if your dog becomes unconscious after choking or experiencing difficulty breathing, performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) can be crucial. It is recommended to learn the proper technique from a veterinarian or attend a pet first aid class.

How long does it take for a dog to choke?

The duration of choking can vary depending on the size and type of object obstructing the airway. In some cases, dogs may be able to dislodge the object themselves through coughing or gagging. However, if the choking persists for more than a few minutes, immediate intervention is necessary.

Are there any specific breeds that are more prone to choking?

While any dog breed can potentially experience choking incidents, certain breeds with shorter snouts or brachycephalic features may be more susceptible due to their anatomy. These breeds include Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus.

Is it safe to reach into my dog’s mouth during a choking episode?

It is generally not recommended to reach into your dog’s mouth during a choking episode as they may unintentionally bite you out of fear or pain. Instead, focus on performing the Heimlich maneuver or seeking veterinary assistance promptly.

Can I prevent my dog from chewing and swallowing dangerous objects?

To minimize the risk of your dog swallowing dangerous objects, it’s essential to provide them with appropriate chew toys and supervise their playtime. Regularly inspect their environment for potential hazards and keep small items out of their reach.

What should I do if my cat is choking?

If your cat is choking, follow similar steps as you would for a small dog. Gently lift their hind legs upward while ensuring their head remains lower than their body. If the obstruction does not clear after attempting these measures, seek immediate veterinary help.

Can dogs choke on food?

Yes, dogs can choke on food if they eat too quickly or try to swallow large pieces without properly chewing them. To prevent this, consider using slow feeder bowls or dividing their meals into smaller portions.

Are there any long-term effects after a choking incident?

In some cases, a choking incident can cause damage to the throat or airway. It is important to monitor your dog for any signs of respiratory distress or difficulty swallowing following such an episode. If you notice any concerning symptoms, consult with a veterinarian for further evaluation.

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