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Signs of Choking in Pets & What to Do

If an object gets lodged in your pet's mouth or throat and they begin to choke, our veterinarians recommend following these steps to help your pet until you can get emergency veterinary treatment in Lisle.

Signs Your Pet is Choking

Most dogs and cats will show some combination of these symptoms if they are choking:

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

If your dog or cat is displaying any of these symptoms, follow the steps below and come to our Lisle office as soon as possible for emergency veterinary treatment

What to Do if Your Cat or Dog is Choking 

Remove the Object if Possible

Restrain your pet first since choking dogs and cats will struggle and this can potentially cause them harm. If they are choking because a string, cord or other item is wrapped around the neck, use a pair of scissors to carefully cut it off. 

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

If you cannot see the object, don't try to poke your finger down your pet's throat in an effort to find and retrieve it, as this may cause injury. If you're unable to dislodge the object by swiping it away, do not attempt to push on it or poke it, as this could send it further down the throat. 

Heimlich Maneuver for Cats & Dogs

If you are unable to remove the object your pet is choking on, you'll need 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 cat loses their pulse, begin CPR at approximately 120 chest compressions per minute and continue these until at our animal clinic, which provides emergency veterinary services to Lisle pets during our daytime hours.

What to do After the Choking has Stopped

Even if you manage to remove the object that is choking your cat or dog, it is wise to bring your pet in for emergency veterinary treatment anyway. Our vets in Lisle will be able to ensure that the choking didn't cause any harm to your pet's body that you can't 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 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.

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.

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 and you are unable to remove the object, bring them in for emergency veterinary treatment at our animal hospital in Lisle during our daytime hours or go to an emergency animal hospital nearby after hours. 

New Patients Welcome

Green Trails Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Lisle companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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