Any pet owner will identify with the heart stopping moment when you think your dog is choking.

Unfortunately, it can be an all too common occurrence for dog owners. This is because dogs are inquisitive creatures and will often chew on anything they can get hold of: from plastic bags to sticks, socks and toys. If it goes down the wrong way though, it may leave them unable to breathe.

Choking is not only worrying it can be extremely dangerous.

Choking occurs when something becomes stuck in the back of the throat and blocks the airway.

If the airway is partially blocked the animal may start retching, pacing back and forth and pawing at their mouth.  They may be struggling to whine and alert you to their problem.

If their airway is totally blocked they may be unable to make any sound at all.


Your pet may show clear signs of distress and paw at their mouth, gag, retch or drool.  They are also likely to panic and may become wheezy. If they are struggling to breathe, they may appear to cough and their mucous membranes may start turning blue. If untreated they will collapse and die.

If your pet is unable to breathe, every second counts and you should start first aid immediately.

If you are unable to dislodge the object within a couple of minutes do not delay getting to the vet.

Knowing exactly how to respond if your dog chokes could save his life.

PLEASE LEARN DOG FIRST AID IN ADVANCE OF AN EMERGENCY SITUATION – do not rely on google to direct you to the most appropriate and correct advice in an emergency situation.

Free resources

We offer many free resources to help owners learn in advance how to help with medical emergencies with their pets. Knowing what to do in an emergency can help you remain calm and react effectively.

We have some great advice as to how to help your dog if they are choking:

We have also produced a free online course on how to help your dog if they choke:

We offer many free and instructive videos on the First Aid for Life YouTube channel too.

Our video How To Save A Choking Dog has been watched a staggering 565,131 to date. We regularly receive texts, calls and emails from dog owners grateful for clear instructions on how to help their pets when choking.

Here is a selection of some of the comments we have received:

Abby X says: Thanks to this video I saved my puppy’s life.

Lex Johnson says: I watched this video a few months ago and thanks to this useful information I helped my clients dog. He was coughing yet not choking because I could hear noise. He was frantically running around crying & trying to throw up. All I did was lift his back legs up and he threw up the stick right away. THANK YOU!

SK shared: My dog almost died last night, choking and collapsed unconscious while eating food too quickly. Thankfully I saved her by giving her the Heimlich, similar to what is shown in this video. First aid for pets is just as important, if you share your home with pets.

Snapple187 said: My terrier was choking when I found your video, it was terrifying. But thankfully you mentioned what to do for small dogs first. He was shaking from asphixiation. But your video saved his life. Please don’t forget the good things that you’ve done, your work has made a difference! Thank you so much!

Gingercastic says: Thank you. I had a dog that choked to death, and from that experience I was very scared. My recent dog was choking and I used all the tips from here and now he is safe and well :)

Montydesijokes says simply: Great video save my dog’s life thank you for posting it.

LÏL J wrote:Thank you! If it wasnt for you, my dog would be dead! Thankfully not!

Julian Hecker recently commented: Very helpful to reduce panic in a near emergency situation

Anna Meyer sent us a heartfelt thank you: This video saved my beloved dog’s life today. Can’t thank you enough.

FoxXxTaco was grateful for the reassurance: This is honestly so helpful, thank you for putting this up, one less worry off my shoulders.

We are delighted our information has helped so many of you. Please do share this information with any other pet owners you know.

We also run online dog first aid course to find our more click here:

Don’t forget you can buy our invaluable guide for dog lovers here:

To sign up for our newsletter offering free information, resources and articles for pets and their humans click here:

Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life

Award-winning first aid training tailored to your needs

It is strongly advised that you attend a fully regulated Practical or Online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit,  or call 0208 675 4036 for more information about our courses.

First Aid for Life is a multi-award-winning, fully regulated first aid training provider. Our trainers are highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals who will tailor the training to your needs. Courses for groups or individuals at our venue or yours.

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

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