What To Do When Your Dog Is Chocking or Unconscious

Emergency! My Pet Is Choking Or Unconscious

When it comes to the safety of our pets, it is important we remember to be calm, collected, and prepared in an emergency situation.



If your pet is choking on an object, if they are still conscious they will be showing tell-tale symptoms such as panicking and possibly pawing at their mouth. Even the calmest of dogs will exude these types of behavior if they are suffocating. Because the dog or cat is panicking, it’s senses are heightened and to avoid potential danger for yourself, restrain your pet without muzzling.



Pre-check: wrap your hands around your pet’s snout, and blow twice quickly and forcefully into the nose. If your pet’s chest did not rise, they likely have something lodged in their throat. Continue on with the step if the dog or cat’s chest does not respond to your air pressure.

Once the dog is restrained:

  1. Open the dog’s mouth firmly with one hand on the upper jaw, and the other hand on the lower jaw.
  2. If possible, press the dog’s lips over it’s teeth so that they are between it’s teeth and your fingers. This will keep the dog from desiring to close it’s mouth while you are looking for the foreign object.
  3. Search for the obstruction. If you can see it, swipe it out the mouth with your fingers. Be careful as to not “rip it out” if it is something sharp or ribbed.
  4. If the object will not come out using your fingers, use a flat spoon type object to see if you can can pry it away from the roof of the mouth or teeth.
  5. Do NOT attempt push the object down the throat as often times the shape and size of the object will not be in a position to clearly pass the esophagus.


If unable to sweep your dog’s throat clean of the obstruction, it is time to perform the heimlich maneuver.

The important steps are below:

  1. Begin by securing your hands or arms just beneath your dog’s ribcage.
  2. Gravity is your new best friend. If your dog is small or medium sized, hold them completely upside-down with your arms wrapped around their waist, and compress five times quickly and with force. If unable to lift the dog completely, lift up their back legs by the same place under their ribs, forcing them into almost a ‘handstand’ position.  (see below).

Your dog should be as vertical as possible with your arms still wrapped just below their rib cage. Once in this position, you may begin your compressions.

Between sets of compressions, you may remove one of your arms from around the waist, and with the base of your open palm, firmly pat the back of the dog between the shoulder blades with force to hopefully assist in dislodging the foreign object. Although this may seem like “hitting” your dog, sometimes the force can be the extra push the object needs to slip free in a life or death situation.

If your dog is too heavy to lift, lay your pet on his or her side, and place one arm beneath them and the other on top, wrapping around in the same place below the ribs and begin compressions that way.

If the object has been dislodged, congratulations! You saved your pet’s life. The next step, would be to follow up with a veterinarian to be sure no serious damage has been done to your pet’s throat, ribs or back.


For more information on the Heimlich Maneuver on your pet, click the link below:



If your pet is unconscious, the first and most important thing to do is check to see if their airway is clear, and if they have a pulse.

To check their air-ways, cup your hands around your pet’s snout, closing off all openings but the nose. Blow into their nose and watch for the chest to rise. If the chest rises, the airway is open, and if it does not, they may have choked on something.

If the airway is NOT clear, begin CPR as well as the heimlich maneuver *as explained above to dislodge the object and open the airway.

If the airway IS clear, however your pet is still unconscious, you may begin CPR on your pet.

Performing CPR On Your Pet : https://www.caninejournal.com/how-to-do-cpr-on-a-dog/


  • Lay your pet on their right side on a flat, stable surface.
  • Straighten their head and neck as best you can to create a direct passage for their airway.
  • Pull the tongue forward so that it rests against the back of their teeth and shut their mouth.
  • Position yourself behind their back.


  • Place both of your palms, one over the other, on top of the widest part of the rib cage, near the heart, but not directly over it.
  • *For smaller dogs weighing 30lbs (13.6kg) or less, cup your hands around the dog’s rib cage, placing your fingers on one side of the chest and your thumb on the other.


  • Keeping both elbows straight, push down on the rib cage in firm, quick compressions. Only compress 1/4 to 1/3 of the chest width.
  • Repeat compressions at a quick rate of 15 per 10 seconds.
  • *For smaller dogs, use your thumb and fingers to squeeze the chest to about a 1/4 or 1/3 of its width. Repeat this at a slightly quicker pace than for larger dogs, aiming for 17 compressions in 10 seconds.


If performing CPR alone, give your dog artificial respiration after each set of 15 compressions.

  • Begin by sealing the dog’s lips. Place your hand over the dog’s muzzle and ensure the mouth is completely closed.
  • Next, place your mouth over the dog’s nostrils and blow gently, watching for the chest to lift and expand. If the chest does not rise, blow harder into the nostrils and check that the mouth is properly sealed.
  • *For smaller dogs, place your mouth over their entire muzzle.
  • Remove your mouth from the nose/muzzle between breaths to allow for air return.
  • Administer one breath for every 15 compressions.
  • *If there are two people available to perform CPR, have one person do the compressions, while the other gives artificial respiration after every 5 compressions.

If you are only performing artificial respiration, follow the same procedure as above for sealing your dog’s mouth, and administer one breath every two to three seconds at a steady pace of 20 to 30 breaths per minute.


  • Place your left hand under your dog’s abdomen, and your right hand on top. Push down to squeeze the abdomen and assist in the circulation of blood back to the heart.
  • Give one abdominal squeeze after each set of 15 compressions and one breath.


Continue CPR or artificial respiration until the dog starts to breathe on its own and has regained a steady pulse. If the dog is not breathing after 20 minutes, it’s time to consider discontinuing treatment, as it is not likely you will have success after this point.


Southern California Veterinary Specialty Hospital

Irvine, CA  – (949) 833-9020  –  http://www.scvsh.com – Open 24 hours

Animal Urgent Care of South Orange County

Mission Viejo, CA – (949) 364-6228 –  http://www.aucsoc.com – Open until 8:00 AM

Central Orange County Emergency Animal Hospital

Newport Beach, CA – (949) 261-7979 – http://orangecountyemergencyvet.com – Open until 8:00 AM

VCA Orange County Veterinary Specialists

Tustin, CA – (949) 654-8950 – https://vcahospitals.com – Open 24 hours

Orange County Emergency Pet Clinic

Garden Grove, CA – (714) 537-3032 – http://er4yourpet.com – Open until 8:00 AM