Saving a Pet from Choking

Pet are like 4 legged children - they like to pick things up and put them in their mouth that they shouldn't!

Common Household Chocking Hazards:

For Dogs:Common causes of choking for dogs are bones that have splintered (poultry or fish bones), hard rubber balls, lumps of gristle, and rawhides that become swollen and enlarge due to moisture.

For Cats: Common causes of choking for cats are splintered bones, pen caps, thimbles, ribbon, tinsel, twine, string. 

Removing the Object from the Pet's Throat:

1. See the pictures below for how to safely open a cat or dog's mouth

2. Use a towel to wrap your pet; or have someone help restrain your pet

3. Open your pet's mouth gently 

4. See if you can easily remove the object with your fingers

5. Proceed with Heimlech maneuver (see below)

6. Follow up immediately with a Veterinarian as there may be damage to the mouth or esophagus

  • A special note for cats who have a length of twine, string, tinsel or ribbon stuck: Unless it slides out like a wet spaghetti noodle, DO NOT pull it. This means it is deep into the GI tract. Trying to pull it could cause a rupture. Take your cat immediately to the Veterinarian or an after hours Emergency Clinic.

Heimlech Maneuver for Cats (see below for Dogs)

1. Lay the cat on its side and place your hand on its back
2. Place your other hand on the belly just below the ribs
3. Using your hand on its belly, give several sharp pushes in and up
4. Check its mouth for the hazard and remove

5. Close the mouth and give a couple of small breaths through the nose
6. Repeat until the airway is completely clear

7. Follow up immediately with a Veterinarian

If the cat is still not breathing check for a heartbeat or pulse. If none can be found, begin CPR.

Heimlech Maneuver for Dogs (see above for Cats)

1. If the dog is small, lay the dog on its back and apply pressure to the abdomen just below the rib cage.

2. If the dog is large, put your arms around its belly, joining your hands. Make a fist and push firmly up and forward, just behind the rib cage. Place the dog on its side afterward.

3. If the dog is already lying on its side, place one hand on the back and use the other hand to squeeze the abdomen up and toward the spine.
4. Check the dog's mouth and remove any objects that may have been dislodged using the precautions described above.​

If the dog is still not breathing check for a heartbeat or pulse. If none can be found, begin CPR.

CPR for Dogs and Cats

Normal Temp, Resp, and Heart Rates for Pets