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Signs Your Pet Is Choking & What To Do

If your furry friend starts choking due to an object stuck in their throat call your vet right away! Many veterinarians recommend trying the following measures to help a choking pet recover.

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)
  • Rubbing their face against the ground

If your cat or dog shows any of these symptoms, follow the steps outlined below and bring them into our veterinary clinic as soon as possible for emergency intervention during our regular business hours. 

What To Do If your Cat or Dog is Choking

Remove The Object if Possible

Firstly, it's crucial to restrain your pet when they are choking, whether they're a cat or a dog. If the choking is due to something like a cord or string wrapped around their neck, use a pair of scissors to cut it off carefully.

However, if the object is stuck in their throat, open their mouth to check if you can see it. If it's visible, use your finger to try and remove it, but avoid attempting to poke down their throat, as this can cause injury. If you cannot dislodge the object by swiping, do not push or poke it, as this could worsen the situation by pushing 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 in two or three times, toward your own stomach, using a sharp thrusting motion.


If your pet cat or dog stops breathing, and their heartbeat stops, perform CPR immediately at about 120 chest compressions per minute. Keep performing the compressions until you reach a veterinary clinic. Remember, prompt action could save your beloved pet's life.

What to do After the Choking has Stopped

If your pet is choking, it's important to take action and remove the object causing the obstruction. However, even if you manage to do so successfully, it's still a good idea to have your pet checked by a veterinarian. Your vet can assess your pet's health and check for any hidden injuries or potential complications caused by the choking incident. By seeking professional help, you can ensure that your furry friend remains healthy and happy for years to come.

Preventing Future Choking

To prevent your pet from choking, it's important to be vigilant about items that could pose a risk. While pet food is typically designed to match your pet's size, it's still a good practice to supervise them while they eat.

Additionally, be sure to inspect any toys before playtime to ensure they don't contain small parts that could break off and potentially cause harm. Taking these simple precautions can help keep your furry friend safe and healthy.

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 our Danbury vets right away! After hours contact your nearest veterinary emergency hospital.

New Patients Welcome

Are you looking for a veterinarian for your cat or dog in Danbury? Mill Plain Veterinary Clinic is now accepting new patients! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Book Online (203) 790-8387

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