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What to Do if Your Pet is Choking

If your dog or cat begins to choke you will need to take action fast! To help you cope with this emergency situation our Huntersville vets share a few steps to take if your pet is choking.

Signs Your Pet is Choking

While we may not think about choking as something that happens to pets, it's a very real health hazard that happens more often than you might imagine. It's important for pet parents to know the signs of cat and dog choking so that they can spot the problem right away and take action.

Whether your pet is a cat or dog, if they are choking they will likely display one or more of the following symptoms:

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

If your dog or cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, follow the steps below and contact your vet right away or call your nearest after-hours animal emergency hospital for urgent help.

What To Do If Your Pet is Choking

Dog or cat choking requires immediate action! If there are 2 of your present, one person should call a vet right away while the other tries the steps below to help the pet dislodge the object.

Remove The Object if Possible

First, restrain your pet. Choking cats and dogs will struggle, and this can potentially cause them harm. If they are choking because a cord, string or other item is wrapped around the neck, carefully use a pair of scissors 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, 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 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 are not able to remove the object your pet is choking on, you'll have to do the Heimlich maneuver:

Method 1

  • 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.

Method 2

  • With your pet standing, stand over them and lace your fingers together around the hollow under their ribcage
  • Thrust sharply upwards then release, repeat if necessary
  • Check your pet's mouth to see if the item has been dislodged


If this doesn’t work and your cat loses their pulse, begin CPR at approximately 120 chest compressions per minute and continue these until at the veterinary practice.

What to do After the Choking has Stopped

Even if you manage to remove the object that is choking your cat or dog, it's wise to bring your pet to the vet anyway just to ensure that no damage has been caused to your pet's throat or mouth.

Preventing Future Choking

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. For their own safety, your pet's toys should be too big for them to hold completely in their mouth.

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 and cat 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. If your pet is prone to gobbling down their food at an alarming rate you may

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.

At Carolina Veterinary Specialists provides advanced diagnosis and treatment to pets in need of specialist care. Contact us to learn how your pet can be seen by one of our specialists.

Caring for Pets in Huntersville

At Carolina Veterinary Specialists, we accept new clients to our specialty services by referral. Our 24/7 emergency service accepts all clients.

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