What To Do If Your Dog is Choking 2020 UPDATE


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What to Do If Your Dog is Choking?

Everyone loves pets and there is no doubt that dog is everyone’s favorite pet. When you have a dog in your home, it is nothing less than having a child.

The way a dog behaves could be compared to a child’s behavior. It shows love, affection, and bonding like a child born out of your womb.

Sometimes it even throws tantrums and becomes defiant for some silly matter. Whatever it does you can’t stop yourself from loving and pampering a dog as you do to your child.

In return, you get double the amount of love you have reserved for him.

Like any child, dogs also need a lot of attention and care. They sometimes may show signs of distress and illness.

Excessive barking, growling, and choking are some common phenomena you will witness when you have a dog in your home. All these conditions arise due to various reasons.

Dog owners often see their dog coughing to relieve himself from some foreign substance stuck in its throat. The coughing sometimes leads to choking making the dog feel uncomfortable.

In most cases, dogs recover as soon as they cough out the foreign object. For some dogs, it may prove life-threatening.

What to do if your dog is choking?

If you have seen your dog choking more than once, then it is a reason for concern. Don’t worry and keep reading to learn how to help your dog when choking.

Note - there is a difference in the sounds that a dog's choking cough makes, versus a normal run-off-the-mill cough.

For example, this is what a kennel cough sounds like - a highly infectious respiratory illness.

Get your dog to a vet ASAP if you hear this!

The second video is actually a dog choking. My suggestion would be to learn to recognize the different sounds of a dog choking cough, and kennel coughs, and general canine coughing.

What is choking?

Choking is a sound of distress that your dog makes when something is stuck in its throat. Most of the time the sound of your dog’s choking feels like coughing in short of quick bursts.

This means that your dog has some foreign or unpalatable object in its throat and it is trying to get rid of it. A tight leash around its neck may also be the cause of dog choking.

How to Differentiate between Coughing and Choking?

Coughing is a continuous process while choking is a short and quick event. Choking only lasts for a few minutes until the reason for the dog choking is eliminated.

Coughing may last for days and maybe a sign of a severe illness.

When your dog starts choking, you may notice your dog experiencing a lot of distress. Pawing at the mouth and drooling are some other signs of choking.

It may also retch, gag, or rub its face, especially mouth along the ground, to show discomfort. If it is experiencing breathing difficulties, it may cough mucous and the skin may turn blue.

In case of a severe form of choking, the dog may collapse and exhibit convulsions.

It generally will sound like the video above, as well.

What to do when a Dog is Choking?

Usually, dogs’ choking doesn’t last long. In the case of dogs, choking is a common phenomenon and dogs use the tactics to get rid of unwanted substances from their throat.

In some special circumstances, a dog may not get rid of the food or foreign object stuck in the throat and may experience a long bout of choking.

In such cases, you should follow the below steps to relieve your dog from choking.

Restrain Your Dog

Restraining a dog while not only choking but also when it is showing signs of discomfort should be the priority.

Dogs may bite or panic when they are in discomfort. 

Restraining stops them from doing so and keeps them fixed to a position. Once the dog stays in position, it becomes easy for you to examine the dog.

Quick Assessment

Try to find out the reason for your dog's choking. Look around its neck for any external objects or leash causing discomfort to the dog around the neck.

Once you make sure that no external element is responsible for the choking, look inside the mouth of the dog.

In every possibility, you may find that it one of the reasons that are making your dog choke.   

Removing the Obstruction

Remove leash or rope wrapped around your dog’s neck immediately if your dog is choking. If it is not cooperating, then use scissors to cut the leash.

If you find any object inside the mouth, try to remove it using your fingers. If the object is unreachable, use tweezers to retrieve it. You should be extra careful while employing these methods.

Your actions shouldn’t aggravate the discomfort of the dog, which is already under distress.

Removing Large Objects

Removing large objects like a ball stuck in the mouth or throat of a dog needs special training. Apply pressure using your thumbs underneath the jaw or below the throat area and try to push forward.

This process dislodges any large object stuck in the throat. Always keep in mind that you should employ this tactic if you are trained or know your dog thoroughly.

Treatment for Choking Dog 

When you fail to stop your dog from choking, you should immediately take your dog to the nearest veterinarian. The veterinarian is well-equipped to handle any severe choking.

The vet initially examines whether the dog is choking or it is a sign of some other problem or illness. If he finds the dog is choking, he may perform an emergency Tracheotomy.

This process involves passing a breathing tube through the windpipe to help the dog to breathe with ease. Once the dog starts breathing without any discomfort, the vet removes the obstruction from the throat.

Remember to tell your vet what happened as well, with a useful checklist:

  • What was your dog last eating or chewing on?
  • At approximately what time did you realise your dog was choking or gagging?
  • What are the steps you have taken to help your dog?
  • What did you try that was successful and what wasn't?
  • Other information (any allergies in case the vet needs to prescribe)


Choking is a normal phenomenon of a dog. But it is always better to consult your vet if you are not sure about your dog’s behavior.

Knowing your dog better including its character, food habits, and behavior would also help in keeping the dog in good condition.

Regular exercise, attention, and keeping your dog engaged always helps you to establish a bond. Even after all the assurances, if your dog chokes never panic.

Try as much as possible to help your dog to get out of the discomfort it is experiencing. If you fail, show your love to keep the dog calm until it gets treated.

While it's pretty harrowing for any dog owner to have to go through this ordeal, there are situations where you can prevent this, from food bowls that discourage monster gulping, to proper dog etiquette and food training.

about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.

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