Airway obstruction

If your pet suffocates or has respiratory difficulties, approach slowly and in a relaxed way because he will be distressed and therefore more reactive. He may have an airway obstruction.


An obstruction can be caused by:

  • Food, toys or other objects
  • Vomit
  • Cervical or throat trauma
  • Pathology of the upper respiratory tract
  • Edema (swelling) of the tongue


You should be aware when your pet:

  • Scratches with the paw in the area of ​​the mouth
  • Have his eyes bulging
  • is compulsively coughing
  • is agitated, anxious or unconscious
  • Has difficulty breathing (apnea)
  • Presents respiratory arrest
  • Have pale (anemic) or bluish (cyanated) gums


Try to calm your pet and remain calm yourself as you open his mouth and run your finger across to see if there is any object that might be causing the obstruction. Always keep in mind NOT TO PUSH THE OBJECT DEEP INSIDE!


If you can not feel any object, pull the animal’s tongue out gently with a cloth to try to unclog some foreign body that may be in the throat and re-inspect the mouth.

If you still can not clear the airway, perform the Heimlich Maneuver on your pet:

If your pet is a small dog or a cat, suspend it by the hips or raise his hind limbs with head down.


You can also place yourself behind the animal, wrap your arms around his belly near the hip, and apply pressure to the abdomen just below the rib cage, especially if it is a large animal that you can not lift. If the animal is unconscious, perform the maneuver with the animal lying on its side.


If you still can not remove the obstruction, you should do 5 abdominal compressions behind the last rib, followed by 5 mouth-nose breathings.


If nothing helps, a “sharp blow” between your pet’s shoulder blades may do the trick. Repeat the abdominal compressions.



Always run your finger in the animal’s mouth after each attempt to clear the object to see if it was released.

Even if you have been able to remove the foreign body, this situation requires immediate veterinary assistance as it may have caused internal injuries!