What to Do If a Dog Is Choking?

What to Do If a Dog Is Choking?

A dog’s life is full of adventures, but sometimes these activities can have dangerous consequences. One alarming emergency to be aware of is choking. Do you know what to do if a dog is choking?

What to Do If a Dog Is Choking

Seeing your beloved dog in distress can be a worrying situation, especially if they start choking. In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to keep calm and focus, however, there are steps you can take which will help alleviate panic and potentially save your pet’s life. Whilst it is essential that any injured dog is taken quickly to a vet for advice if this isn’t possible then understanding what to do in an emergency can provide valuable moments which could make all the difference. 

In this blog post, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to help if your dog is choking. From clearing the airway of an object stuck in their throat to know when it’s time to seek medical attention – together we will get through this critical moment and make sure your furry friend stays safe and sound.

What Are the Levels of Choking in Dogs?

The levels of choking in dogs can be divided into three categories: mild, moderate, and severe.

Mild choking is when the airway is slightly blocked but there are still some signs of distress such as a soft cough or gagging. The dog may also have difficulty breathing or swallowing food. In this instance, it’s important to use caution and remove whatever is blocking the airway immediately.

Moderate choking is when the airway is almost completely blocked and the dog’s breathing becomes labored and strained. The dog may also cough, gag, or drool excessively. It’s important to act quickly in this instance by carefully removing any foreign objects that are blocking the airway or using CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if needed.

Severe choking is when the airway is completely blocked and the dog cannot breathe at all. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention from a veterinarian. If left untreated, it can be fatal. In this instance, it’s important to act quickly and firmly to remove the object that is blocking the airway. If necessary, CPR should also be performed.

It’s important to remember that choking can occur suddenly and without warning in any situation so it’s important to be prepared and know how to respond if your dog begins to choke. Being able to recognize the signs of choking in dogs and having a plan of action can help to prevent serious injury or death.

Signs Your Dog is Choking

Some of the common signs you may recognize if your dog is choking include:

• Coughing and gagging

• Retching with no vomit produced

• Inability to bark or make any sound

• Excessive salivation

• Lethargy and breathing difficulties

• Pawing at the mouth

Signs that a dog is choking can include coughing, gagging, wheezing, difficulty breathing or vocalizing, and excessive salivation. The dog may also paw at its mouth or neck area. If the obstruction is not removed quickly, the dog’s airway can become completely blocked off, leading to loss of consciousness.

Being aware of the signs of choking in dogs is critical for ensuring their well-being. If you ever see any of the above signs, take your dog to the vet immediately. With prompt treatment, many choking incidents can be resolved with minimal complications.

Remember: If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to act quickly and carefully.

What to Do If Your Dog is Choking?

If you suspect your dog is choking, it’s important to act quickly. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Check your dog’s mouth and throat for any visible obstructions.

Check your dog’s mouth and throat for any visible obstructions. Gently use a piece of gauze or cloth to attempt to remove the object if you can identify it. Take care not to push it in further.

If you find that your dog is choking, the first thing you should do is remain calm and assess the situation. Check inside your dog’s mouth for any foreign objects that could be causing a blockage. If you can spot something, try to remove it with your fingers or with tweezers if available. However, take caution when doing this as the object may be lodged too deeply or your dog may bite you. 

Step 2: Check your dog’s airway

If you are unable to remove the object, check your dog’s airway for blockage by placing a finger over its nostrils and blowing gently into its mouth. If the obstruction is blocking the airway, it should be felt in your finger when you blow.

Step 3: Use the Heimlich maneuver

If there is an obstruction, use the Heimlich maneuver to attempt to dislodge it. Stand behind your dog and place your arms around its waist, making sure one hand is in contact with the ribs just below the ribcage. Make a fist with your other hand and press it into the abdomen above the navel. Quickly thrust upward and forward several times until the object is expelled.

Step 4: Take your dog to a veterinarian or emergency animal hospital immediately

If the Heimlich maneuver is unsuccessful, take your dog to a veterinarian or emergency animal hospital immediately. The vet may use an endoscope to remove the obstruction and provide oxygen therapy if necessary. 

Step 5: Consult a veterinarian

After your dog has recovered, consult your veterinarian about getting them a special collar or harness with a quick-release mechanism that could help in the future if your dog should become choked again. 

It is also important to take steps to prevent choking in the first place by monitoring what your pet is eating and playing with and keeping dangerous objects out of reach. If you suspect any toys or other items may pose a choking hazard, discard them immediately. With a little extra vigilance, you can help ensure your pet’s safety. 

If you’re ever unsure of what to do in an emergency, the best course of action is to call 911 or your local vet and get professional medical care as soon as possible.

During this time, it is important to remain calm and supportive of your dog. Speak soothingly to them and provide reassurance that they will be okay. Once they have received emergency care, do whatever you can to make sure they feel comfortable and relaxed as they recover from their ordeal. Taking preventative measures, such as keeping small objects away from your dog and monitoring their eating, can help prevent choking in the future. 

Dog Choking on Water, What to Do?

If your dog is choking on water, it can be a very frightening experience. If you have seen your dog drinking water and then suddenly start coughing and gagging, there are some things you can do to help them.

If your dog is choking on water, the fastest and safest way to help them is by laying them down on their side and begin chest compressions. Place one hand over their heart with two fingers at the bottom of their rib cage, then press firmly and quickly repeatedly for about 30 seconds. 

This will help unblock any water that may be stuck in their airway and allow them to breathe again, however, if they do not start breathing by themselves then it is time to seek emergency medical assistance.

Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs (Dog Heimlich)

The Heimlich maneuver is an emergency procedure used to clear the airway of a choking victim. It may also be used as a lifesaving technique for dogs that are experiencing a life-threatening obstruction in their airway.

To perform the Heimlich maneuver on your dog, you will need to take careful steps to ensure the safety of your pet.

First, make sure you are in a safe area and that there is no other debris that the dog can inhale while performing the Heimlich maneuver. The next step is to stand behind your dog and place one arm around its waist. Make a fist with your other hand, and place it just below the rib cage, in the middle of the abdomen. Now, quickly press inward and upward with your fist several times until whatever is stuck in the dog’s throat is expelled.

Do not use this life-saving technique if you are unfamiliar with it or unsure whether it will help your pet’s situation. If you feel uncomfortable performing the Heimlich maneuver, seek immediate veterinary help for your dog and let a professional handle the situation.

The Heimlich maneuver is an effective technique for clearing the airway of a choking victim, including dogs. If performed correctly, it can be a life-saving technique for your pet. Remember to take the necessary precautions before performing the maneuver and seek professional help if you are unsure of how to proceed.

What to do After Your Dog has Stopped Choking

After your dog has stopped choking, you should take it to a veterinarian for a full check-up. Choking can be a sign of an underlying health issue, and the vet may be able to diagnose and treat any potential problems. If your dog did not have any pre-existing conditions, then it is likely that the blockage was a one-time occurrence.

However, you should still monitor your dog closely in the coming days and watch for any signs of a recurring problem. Additionally, if you were unable to remove the blockage, then the vet must check your dog at least once to make sure that no foreign objects are still lodged in its airway.

How Can I Prevent My Dog from Choking?

If your dog is in good health, and no further action needs to be taken, then you can begin the process of preventative steps that will help keep your pup from choking again. This includes:

• Ensuring your dog’s toys and treats are small enough for them to swallow safely and supervise them while they eat or play with these objects.

• Feed your dog a healthy diet and ensure that the food is given in small, manageable pieces.

• Monitoring your dog for any signs of distress or discomfort (e.g., excessive drooling, coughing, gagging).

• Keeping an eye on the things that your dog consumes and not allowing them to eat anything that could pose a choking hazard (e.g., rocks, sticks, small objects).

• Take your pup to regular check-ups with the veterinarian to ensure their overall health and safety.

By taking these preventative steps, you can help keep your pup safe from further choking incidents. With the right care, your four-legged friend can avoid any further choking or other health issues.

Additionally, it is important to remember that choking can be a life-threatening incident and should not be taken lightly. If your dog experiences another episode of choking, do not hesitate to seek medical attention immediately. The earlier you address the problem, the greater chance your pup will have at making a full recovery. By taking the necessary steps to protect your pup, you can help keep them safe and healthy for years to come.

FAQs of What to Do If a Dog Is Choking

Can a dog suffocate from collapsed trachea?

Yes, a dog can suffocate from a collapsed trachea. This condition is often caused by excessive pressure on the airway due to factors such as excess weight or overexertion during exercise like running or jumping. Symptoms of a collapsed trachea include noisy breathing, gagging and coughing, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, a dog may have episodes of fainting or weakness.

If left untreated, the airway can become completely blocked, resulting in suffocation. Treatment for a collapsed trachea typically includes rest and weight management, as well as medications to reduce inflammation and relax the muscles around the airway. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to open the airway and restore normal breathing.

It is important to seek veterinary care if your dog is exhibiting signs of a collapsed trachea, as this condition can be life-threatening. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential for ensuring the best chances of recovery.

How do vets fix a collapsed trachea?

Vets typically treat a collapsed trachea by managing the underlying cause. Depending on the diagnosis, this could involve medications, dietary changes, and lifestyle modifications such as avoiding smoking or polluted air. 

In some cases, surgery may be recommended to stabilize the trachea and reduce symptoms. Surgery can involve implanting rings that support the trachea, or even removing a portion of the trachea if necessary. 

In severe cases, an endotracheal tube may be inserted to help support the airway and improve breathing. Additionally, supportive care such as physiotherapy and oxygen therapy can help reduce symptoms in affected animals. It is important that owners work closely with their veterinarian to develop a treatment plan that is suitable for their pet. 

With proper care, a collapsed trachea can be managed successfully and the affected animal should be able to live a comfortable life.

Does dog choking but still breathing endanger the life of a dog?

Yes, it does. Choking is a serious medical emergency that can cause life-threatening complications in dogs if not treated right away. When a dog is choking, the airway is completely blocked and they are unable to breathe or swallow. This deprives the brain of oxygen which can lead to brain damage and even death if left untreated for too long.

If your dog appears to be choking, it is important to seek veterinary help immediately. If you are unable to get your dog to a vet, perform the Heimlich maneuver on your pet and check the airway for any blockages that may need to be removed. Taking quick action can save your dog’s life!

What are the signs your dog choked to death?

If a dog has choked to death, the signs are usually fairly obvious. Your pet may become unresponsive and may have difficulty breathing or be completely unable to breathe at all. In addition, their gums may turn blue or pale due to lack of oxygen. The body will also usually become stiff and your pet may have involuntary muscle spasms or seizures. In some cases, the body may even go into shock and their heart rate will be dangerously low. If you suspect that your dog has choked to death, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.

How often do dogs choke?

Choking is fairly uncommon in dogs, but it can still occur if the animal gets a foreign object stuck in their throat or experiences an obstruction of the airway. Some breeds may be more prone to choking due to anatomical factors such as having a smaller-than-average trachea. In addition, puppies and senior dogs are more likely to choke due to their immature or weakened airways.

It is important to monitor your pet when they are eating, playing with toys, or exploring the outdoors. If you notice any signs of choking such as coughing, gagging, or difficulty breathing, it is essential to seek veterinary care right away. Quick action can save your pet’s life!


In conclusion, if you suspect your dog is choking, it is important to take action quickly and calmly. Remove any objects that may be lodged in the throat and try to clear the passageway. If the dog’s airway remains blocked, seek immediate veterinary care.

Do not attempt to perform a Heimlich maneuver on your pet as this can cause further damage. If foreign material is visible in the mouth, do not remove it with your fingers as this can cause more harm than good. With quick action and medical attention, a choking dog can be saved.

We hope this post has helped you understand what to do if your dog is choking. Remember to remain calm and act quickly if you suspect a choking emergency. With prompt medical attention, it is possible to save your beloved pet. Thank you for reading!


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To provide you with the expert assistance you need, Vet Ranch with licensed veterinarians can answer your health-related pet issues. For the purpose of sharing knowledge with each other, we have jointly created this website, where you can get useful information from us and also where we expand our knowledge through your comments from you.