If something gets lodged in your dog or cat's mouth or throat and they start to choke, our Boulder and Westminster emergency veterinarians recommend following these steps to help your pet.
Signs Your Pet is Choking
Most dogs and cats will display some combination of the following symptoms if they are choking:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Rubbing their face against the ground
- Gagging or retching
- Blue mucous membranes (cyanosis)
If your dog or cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, follow the steps below and get to our office as soon as possible for emergency intervention.
What To Do If Your Cat or Dog is Choking
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 can't see it, don't try to find it by poking your finger down your pet's throat, as this can cause injury. If you are unable to remove the object by swiping it away, do not poke or push on it, as this may 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:
- 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 the veterinary practice.
What to do After the Choking has Stopped
Even if you are able to remove the object that is choking your cat or dog, you should still take your pet to the veterinarian. The vet will be able to ensure that the choking did not cause any harm to your pet's body that you cannot 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.