Are they choking?

Signs of choking
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Gagging and retching
  • Gums/tongue turning blue
  • Not able to breathe in
What to do
  1. Keep calm
  2. Call your vet
  3. If your pet is not breathing, go to Step 1 remembering to be VERY careful as a panicking pet may bite.
Call  Your Vet

Step 1: Pull tongue and sweep mouth

  1. Open their mouth and get someone to help you hold their jaws open if possible. Pull their tongue forward.
Dog Choking
  1. Perform a sweep of their mouth with your fingers to see if you can carefully hook anything out. Take care not to push it further down the throat.
Dog Choking - remove object
  1. Remove any collars.
  2. If a bone or stick is lodged in the mouth but your pet is still able to breathe go to your vet to get it removed safely under sedation as you may cause more damage trying to remove it yourself.
  3. If you feel you can't safely do this step (pet trying to bite) move straight to the next step (Heimlich manoeuvre).


Larger animals that are standing
  1. Stand behind your pet, link your arms under their belly and make a fist with your hands in the soft spot just behind where the ribs end.
  2. Thrust pump upwards and forwards in the direction of where the obstruction is, 5 times in quick succession.
  3. Check mouth for dislodged item.
Dog Heimlich
Smaller dogs and cats
  1. Hug your pet against your chest (their back against your front, their head up).
  2. Make a fist in soft spot below their rib cage.
  3. pump inwards and upwards 5 times in quick succession.
  4. Check mouth for dislodged item.
Cat Heimlich
Animals lying down/unconscious
  1. Kneel behind your pet’s back.
  2. Make a fist and press it in the soft spot on their belly behind the rib cage.
  3. Thrust pump inwards (towards you) and towards your pet’s head 5 times in quick succession.
  4. Check mouth for dislodged item.
Dog Heimlich
Large ball wedged in their throat?

These can sometimes be massaged out by turning your pet onto their back, putting your thumbs behind the ball, and massaging the ball upwards and out of their mouth.

Unable to dislodge the obstruction /
pet not breathing?

Whilst travelling to your vets (if you can do so safely), alternate the Heimlich manoeuvre with CPR.

If you successfully remove the item

You should still take your pet to be checked over by a vet.

preventing choking

  • Don't throw toys or food in the air for your pet to catch
  • Choose toys that are the correct size for your pet, ideally with holes in
  • Choose toys with holes in
  • Supervise play
  • Avoid cooked bones - these can bend and splinter