dog choking

Pet First Aid Awareness Month – Choking

In Animal Health, Dog Behavior, Dog CPR, dog walker, Dogs, pet care professional, pet cpr, Pet First Aid, Pet Industry, pet sitter, Uncategorized by Cara Armour2 Comments

Dogs Are More Likely to Choke Than Cats

Choking can occur suddenly in dogs and cats that are chewing on food, treats, or toys. The pet may suddenly become anxious, start pawing at their mouth, and may struggle to breathe. Their gums may turn blue or gray and they may lose consciousness.
This, like the blockages post will be dog-centric given our feline friends are a bit more choosy about what they put in their mouth!

Survival Stories

I’ve actually witnessed choking a few times. Once we were pet sitting a Golden and a Boxer. The Boxer LOVED her food to the point where she literally inhaled it. Anyone that has a Lab that loves to eat knows the exact voracity I am describing. She went over to her bowl – we had fed as the owners had directed and thankfully my husband stood beside them while I did some dishes. The bowls were set behind a 1/2 wall in the living room so it would be common for the owners to set the food down and walk back into the kitchen leaving the dogs out of sight. I am very grateful my husband stayed to watch, and so is our client.

Not more than a few seconds into the kibble decimation did the Boxer start to choke. She was so blocked up with kibble that noises weren’t even coming out which means no air was being exchanged.

My husband acted immediately and was able to apply forceful compressions while standing above her pressing on the widest part of her rib cage. He used the trapped air to force the kibble up and out.

Rumour (the Boxer’s name), didn’t miss a beat, she blinked and headed down to the ground to gobble up the kibble that almost killed her! Happy ending, happy dog.

Of course my next story involves a Boxer but this was one we actually own. Last November I had a litter of puppies. They are fed a species appropriate raw diet after they were weaned at 4 weeks. We fed each of the 7 puppies in their own separate crate as part of their crate training. Feeding 7 hungry little Boxer puppies is a feat of its own but as I was just placing the last bowl in the last crate I noticed Walter was limp in his.

I quickly grabbed him out and noticed his throat looked swollen and I could feel food in it. I quickly set him on the floor and pressed on the highest part of his rib cage. The chicken gizzard oozed out of his mouth and before I could even grab it he flipped up and tried to eat it again! I wrestled to get it out of his mouth. Needless to say the 5.5 week old puppies got ground gizzards until they were much older and we ended up keeping Walter, he’s the pup that also fell through the ice – this dog has many lives!
boxer puppy
I have a few more stories but you get the idea; its to know a) to pay attention to and avoid choking hazards, b) know to react c) know how to react.  While both these example revolved around food, I can certainly recommend never leaving a fed pet unattended. The most common choking hazards are chew toys so ALWAYS supervise when you give your dog something to chew. Think again about rawhides and here is why.

Unconscious from Choking

If at any time your pet goes unconscious and stops breathing, you will have to give rescue breaths and or perform CPR, especially if the breaths do not go in. Whether your pet regains consciousness or never lost it to begin with, a pet that has choked should be seen by a veterinarian. Here is a video from our course on performing Dog CPR.

As mentioned in our previous posts, taking precautions to avoid having your pets choke on something is always your best course of action. However, accidents can and will happen – that ball you were throwing just might get lodged down Bella’s throat and the kibbles that Kit Cat was chomping on could get stuck. Knowing how to act quickly and calmly when your companion is choking will absolutely mean the difference to them. Don’t wait until tomorrow to learn how to be a hero today.


  1. You guys are awesome!! Thank you so much for helping me save my and other pets!! Valerie Sauchelli

    1. Author

      Thank you for learning how to do so and helping us make the world safer for pets with more people knowing what to do in an emergency!

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