What do you do if your dog is choking on something? A Step-by-Step Guide

Signs your dog is choking

Choking occurs when something becomes stuck in the back of the throat and blocks the airway.

If the airway is partially blocked the animal may start retching, pacing back and forth and pawing at their mouth. They may be struggling to whine and alert you to their problem.

However, if their airway is totally blocked, they will be unable to make any sound at all.

If the above, hasn’t worked:

Pick the dog up by its thighs and gently shake 3 or 4 times in a downwards motion.

What to do if your dog is choking

  • Firstly, gently restrain your dog to protect yourself, but do not muzzle them as they are struggling to breathe, and a muzzle will make things worse. Choking dogs are likely to struggle, potentially causing harm to themselves and to you, they may thrash around and bite in their panic.
  • Open the mouth and look inside. An object in the mouth such as a stick or piece of bone may be able to be removed with a large pair of tweezers or by reaching into the dog’s mouth, with the help of another person. DO NOT put yourself at risk of being bitten. If this is a in any way a possibility, take the animal straight to the vet to remove the object.
  • Some dogs such as Labradors have an additional cavity at the top of their mouth where objects can become lodged. If a solid object is lodged at the back of the throat (e.g. rawhide or a pig’s ear), one person should hold the mouth open extremely carefully (try to press their lips over their teeth to protect your fingers) and another reach into the dog’s mouth with tweezers or forceps to grasp the item and remove it.
  • Do not push at the object with your fingers as you may lodge it deeper.
  • Do not stick your fingers down the throat or finger sweep to try and locate an object, as this is likely to cause damage to the delicate tissues at the back of the throat.
  • Large objects, such as balls or pieces of rawhide, can sometimes be dislodged by placing firm pressure with both thumbs underneath the jaw at the base of the throat and pushing forwards.
  • What to Do if Your Dog Is Choking

    If something becomes lodged in your dog or cats throat and they begin choking, our Oakland veterinarians recommend following these steps to help your pet recover.

    Most pets, including cats and dogs, will display some combination of the following symptoms if they are choking on something:

    If your cat or dog is showing any of these symptoms, follow the steps outlined below and then bring them into our veterinary clinic as soon as possible for emergency intervention during our regular business hours.