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Signs of Choking in Pets & What to Do

Signs of Choking in Pets & What to Do

It is a very scary experience if something gets lodged in your cat or dog's throat and they begin choking. Today, our New Hope vets share some signs that your pet is choking and how you can help.

Signs Your Pet Is Choking

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

  • Distress
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Salivation
  • Coughing
  • Gagging or retching
  • Blue mucous membranes (cyanosis)

If your cat or dog is showing any of these symptoms, follow the steps outlined below and then bring them to the vet as soon as possible for emergency care

What to Do if Your Cat or Dog Is Choking

Remove the Object if Possible

Firstly, restrain your pet. When cats or dogs choke, they will struggle and this may cause them and your harm. If they are choking because of a string, cord, or other item being wrapped around their neck, use a pair of scissors to very carefully cut them off. 

If your dog or cat is choking on something that is lodged into their throat, open their mouth to see if you can locate the stuck object. If you can see it, use your finger to try and swipe it away and out of their mouth.

If you cannot see it, don't try to poke your finger down your pet's throat to find it, as this can cause injury. If you can't dislodge the object by swiping it away, do not try to poke it or push on it, as this could force it further down the throat.

Heimlich Maneuver for Cats & Dogs

If you aren't able to remove the object your pet is choking on, you will have to use the Heimlich maneuver:

  • Lay your pet on their side.
  • Check the mouth to determine if the object has been dislodged.
  • Hold your pet's back against your stomach (head up, paws down).
  • With one hand, find the soft hollow under the ribs (your closed fist should fit into this spot).
  • Use the hand on your pet's stomach to pull up and inwards two or three times, toward your own stomach, using a sharp thrusting motion.


If this doesn't work and your cat or dog loses their pulse, start CPR at about 120 chest compressions per minute and continue until you arrive at a veterinary practice. 

After Your Pet Stops Choking

Even if you manage to remove the object which is causing your dog or cat to choke, it is wise to bring your pet to your veterinarian anyway. Your vet will be able to ensure that the choking didn't cause any harm or further health issues in your pet's body that you aren't able to see.

Preventing Choking

To minimize the chances that your pet chokes in the future, make sure you keep an eye on objects that could potentially be choking hazards. 

Generally speaking, food made for cats and dogs is formulated with the animal's size in mind, but it's a good idea to monitor your pet as they eat just in case. 

Monitor your dog or cat during play and make sure any toys do not include pieces that could break off and become potential choking hazards.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

If your pet is choking and you cannot remove the object that is stuck, contact our New Hope vets right away.

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New Hope Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Let our experienced vets give your pet the comprehensive care they deserve. Reach out today to book your pet's first appointment.

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