Dog First Aid: Choking Dog First Aid: Choking

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Dog First Aid: Choking

A dog choking can be a life-threatening issue. Choking risks can be anything from simple household items, toys and even treats, so it’s important to keep an eye out and knew what to do if the worst happens.

Quick responses can be the difference between life & death for your dog, so our resident first aid expert has put together some advice that can help you react if you suspect your dog is choking.

How can I tell if my dog is choking?

The tell-tale sign of choking is if your dog is unable to breathe. If your dog sounds like they are choking but can still draw in breath, it is more likely that they are coughing. If this is the case, it is best to offer them water and wait until the coughing has subsided before checking inside their mouth. If the coughing does not subside, check the gum colouring as lack of air getting in may cause these to turn blue. Other symptoms of choking include extreme distress and pawing at the mouth.

What is my dog choking on?

Is there a visible obstruction such a toy or chew? If you can see the obstruction it is best to keep your dog calm and try to remove the item from their mouth. Always try to remove the item using tweezers or pliers instead of your fingers, as this could cause your dog to panic. Great care must be taken though to ensure that you do not push the object further down the throat, which could block the airway even more, and that you do not get bitten as even a friendly dog may bite when distressed.

Large objects, like balls can sometimes be dislodged by placing your thumbs underneath the jaw at the base of the throat and pushing forwards.

What happens if my dog is unconscious?

If your dog has lost consciousness, open their mouth, and sweep your fingers across the back of their throat to establish if anything is stuck.

What if I can’t remove the obstacle?

If you can’t remove the item obstructing your dog’s airway, follow the next steps to help push the object and air out of your dog’s lungs. This is known as the Heimlich manoeuvre dog.

  • Lay your dog gently on their side.
  • Place both your hands on the side of their ribcage.
  • Small dogs; 1. Hold your dog on your lap and turn them onto their back. 2. Using your palm, apply pressure directly beneath the rib cage and push firmly inwards & upwards 5 times in a thrusting motion. 3. Roll your dog back on their side and check their mouth to see it the item has been dislodged. 

  • Medium & large breeds; 1. If the dog is standing, stand over them facing their head and put your arms around them so your hands join at the abdomen jest behind the rib cage. 2. Make a fist with your hands and firmly push up and forward 5 times. 3. Check their mouth to see it the item has been dislodged.
  • If the medium/large dog is on the floor; 1. Place one hand on your dog’s back. 2. Use the other hand to push or squeeze the abdomen, just behind the rib cage, upwards & forwards towards the spine. 3. Check their mouth to see it the item has been dislodged.


What if the item doesn’t come out?

If these quick reactive actions do not work, call your vet immediately for an emergency appointment.

If your dog experiences a choking episode and shows signs of discomfort following the incident- contact your vet for a check up to ensure there are no side effects of the choking.