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Heimlich Maneuver For Dogs: What To Do If Your Dog Is Choking?

Heimlich Maneuver For Dogs: What To Do If Your Dog Is Choking?

If something becomes lodged in your dog's mouth or throat and they begin choking, try following these steps provided by our Apple Valley veterinarians.

Signs of a Choking Dog Choking

Is your beloved pet choking? If they are showing one or more of the following signs, they may be:

  • Distress
  • Salivation
  • Coughing
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Gagging or retching
  • Blue mucous membranes (cyanosis)
  • Rubbing their face against the ground

If your dog or cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, follow the steps below and get to our office as soon as possible for emergency intervention or get in touch with a dedicated emergency hospital.

How To Help a Choking Dog or Cat

Remove The Object if Possible

Do your best to restrain your dog. Choking animals will struggle and may potentially cause themselves harm. If your dog is choking because of a cord, string or another item around their neck, Use a pair of scissors as carefully as possible to cut it off.

If the cat or dog is choking on something lodged in their mouth or throat, open the mouth to see if you can locate the object. If you can see it, try to swipe it away with your finger.

If you cannot see it contact an emergency vet immediately! Don't try to poke your finger down your pet's throat in an effort to find it, as this can cause injury.

If you aren't able to dislodge the object by swiping it away, don't poke or push on it. This can push it even further down their throat!

Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs

If you are not able to remove the object your pet is choking on, you'll have to do the Heimlich maneuver:

  • Lay your pet on their side.
  • 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 in two or three times, toward your own stomach, using a sharp thrusting motion.
  • Check the mouth to determine if the object has been dislodged.


If this doesn’t work and your dog loses their pulse, begin CPR at approximately 120 chest compressions per minute and continue these until you get to the emergency veterinary hospital.

What to do After the Choking has Stopped

Even if you do manage to remove the object that is choking your dog, it's best to bring them to your vet for a checkup anyway. A veterinarian will be able to check to make sure that the choking didn't cause extra harm to your pooch's body that you might not be able to see.

Preventing Future Choking

To minimize the chances of your pet choking in the future, make sure to keep an eye on anything that could be a potential choking hazard.

Generally, dog food is formulated with the animal's size in mind, but it's always a good idea to monitor them when they are eating anyway.

Monitor your dog 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. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your pet is choking, contact Bear Valley Animal Hospital right away during our regular hours. If your emergency is outside of these hours, contact the closest emergency pet hospital.

Caring for pets in the heart of the Victor Valley.

Bear Valley Animal Hospital welcomes new and existing clients from Hesperia, Victorville, Lucerne Valley, and across the High Desert to our Apple Valley veterinary clinic.

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20991 Bear Valley Rd Apple Valley CA 92308 US


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