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How to dislodge a bone from a dog’s throat

Black labrador dog eating a bone

Your dog’s throat should feel like a firm, even tube.

© Shutterstock

Whatever is stuck in your dog's throat, you'll want to know how to help your pet out as soon as possible.

By Dr. Liz Barton MA, VetMB, MRCVS

Updated on the 06/03/2021, 02:24

From swallowing toys to sticks and balls, it can be relatively easy for a dog to get something stuck in their throat. But how do you know if it's a serious problem or not? All is revealed here.

Can bones get stuck in a dog's throat?

Bones, especially brittle ones, can get stuck and cause choking and injury to the throat. Other things, such as sticks, balls and rawhide (leather) can also get stuck in a dog’s throat. There are many safer alternative treats and toys to give your dog to enjoy. For example, if you are using a ball, make sure it’s too big to fit fully inside your dog’s mouth.

How do you know if something is lodged in your dog's throat?

If your dog swallowed something that has become stuck in their throat, the symptoms they may show include trying to clear their throat, pawing at their mouth, salivating a lot, coughing, choking or retching (trying to vomit). If your dog is eating grass and choking, it usually means they are trying to make themselves sick. Dogs sometimes eat grass and vomit it back up again, when they have an upset stomach.

What should a dog's throat feel like?

A dog’s throat should feel like a firm, even tube running down the middle underneath their neck. It is a bit wider at the top where their voice-box (larynx) is – equivalent to the Adam’s apple on a human. You should feel your dog’s throat to see if there is a lump, or if your dog finds it painful or starts to cough. This may indicate a problem with their throat.

What to do if your dog has something stuck in their throat

If you can do so safely, gently open your dog’s mouth to see if you can see a blockage. Check the roof of the mouth, between the teeth and look to the back of their throat. If you see something lodged in your dog’s throat, it is important not to try to dislodge it at home. There is a risk you could push it further into the throat as your dog moves. You need to see a vet about this.

Is there a home remedy for a bone stuck in a dog's throat?

Home remedies are not advised for choking dogs. If your dog has an oesophageal blockage, giving a home remedy could cause more problems, such as damaging the delicate structures of the throat. If your dog is choking, there is also the risk that they can aspirate (inhale) anything you try to give them, which can lead to pneumonia.

Why is my dog coughing like something is stuck in his throat?

If your dog is coughing but there doesn’t appear to be anything stuck, then the blockage may be further down, behind the tongue. This may require a vet to sedate your dog, to have a look further down. If your dog is trying to clear their throat or coughing, there may also be other causes. If the symptoms continue or your dog is distressed, contact a vet for advice.