How to Tell if Your Dog is Choking

You’re out for a walk, or maybe you’re in the middle of giving your dog his favorite treat. All of a sudden, he starts choking. It’s hard to know what’s happening to your dog and whether he needs immediate medical attention or if you can help at home. What are the signs that tell you your pup is choking? Which ones will tell you it’s time to get to a 24-hour veterinary clinic? Is there anything you can do at home before getting professional help? The answer is yes—there are things you can do as soon as your dog starts choking. Read on for some helpful hacks on dealing with choking dogs before getting professional help!

Choking is a scary experience for your dog, and may cause him to become panicky.

If your dog is choking, he may become scared and panicky. This can lead to him becoming aggressive or lethargic, depressed, anxious or fearful.

If you see that your dog is choking on something, do not attempt to remove it yourself! You could cause more harm than good by trying this.

A choking dog will not be able to breathe.

A choke is a serious medical emergency. If you see your dog choking, act quickly! Your dog will not be able to breathe and will make wheezing sounds. He or she may also be unable to swallow, which can lead to suffocation and death if left untreated.

He might paw at his face in distress.

If your dog is pawing at his face and making gagging noises, it’s a sign that he’s having trouble breathing. This is a serious situation that must be addressed immediately. If you see him doing this, try to get him to stop and help him get comfortable before going outside or calling an emergency number for advice on what to do next.

Dogs don’t actually faint, but collapse when they lack oxygen.

You may have heard that dogs faint when they choke, but that is not the case. Fainting is a reflex in which the brain momentarily loses consciousness, while choking is a physical blockage of the airway. If your dog’s tail begins to droop and his eyes roll back into his head, he’s probably fainting.

If you look down at your dog and see him lying on his side with one paw raised and panting heavily, it could be an indication that he’s choking. This behavior will continue until either something clears the blockage or he loses consciousness due to lack of oxygen—and if it goes on long enough, it can cause death by suffocation!

If you’re not sure if your dog is choking, open his mouth.

If you’re not sure if your dog is choking, open his mouth.

Use your fingers to gently open the mouth and check for foreign objects. If you see something, remove it immediately. If there’s no blockage and your pet seems fine after a few seconds of vigorous shaking and coughing—or even normal behavior—you can probably assume that he’s fine on his own and didn’t need any intervention from you or anyone else.

If you don’t see an object in the mouth but still suspect that something might be blocking breathing pathways or causing discomfort, take him directly to the vet as soon as possible.

Don’t try to pull the object out of your dog’s mouth.

  • Don’t try to grab the object with your hands. This may push the object further into your dog’s throat, or cause him to bite down harder on it, which can cause internal damage.
  • Don’t try to use a sharp object to pry the object out of your dog’s mouth. You could accidentally poke his throat and make things worse.
  • Don’t try to push the object down his throat (like with a broom handle). If you do this, you risk pushing the foreign body further into his esophagus and causing irreparable damage.

You can also use abdominal thrusts on a large dog or CPR on a small dog.

If you are not able to get a tube down your dog’s throat, you can also perform abdominal thrusts on a large dog or CPR on a small dog.

Abdominal thrusts are also known as Heimlich Maneuver, and they work best when the object is lodged in your dog’s esophagus (the tube that connects your pet’s mouth and stomach). For successful abdominal thrusts, you will need to be comfortable kneeling behind the choking pet and then grasping him by his rib cage. Next, pull upward forcefully about two to four times in rapid succession—this should dislodge whatever has become lodged in his esophagus.

If this method fails to remove the object from his airway, consider calling 911 for help from trained medical professionals. They may be able to use an endotracheal tube (ET) or forceps to clear any foreign objects from your pet’s throat safely so that he does not experience further damage if at all possible!


We hope you never have to deal with a choking dog! But if you do, having some knowledge of what to do in that situation can help save your pet. Even if the situation is scary, stay calm yourself and remember that you’re trying to help your dog get better.