Choking in Dogs and Things to Avoid – Our Top 10

There are all sorts of items that can cause choking in dogs, but did you know many hazards could be lying around your house? We are not saying you can stop all of these coming into contact with your dog, some you may not want to, but it is worth being mindful of these everyday items and making sure you steer your dog away from these potential dangers for their sake and yours!

10 items that cause choking in dogs

#1 – Balls

Dogs can choke on ballsFinding the right sized ball for your dog is one of the most important things you’ll ever need to do. Any ball, of any type, that can fit past your dogs front teeth is too small and poses a very high choking risk. The ball in the picture with this Lab is the perfect size and will reduce the possibility of your dog choking.

The basic tennis-ball size works fine for most dogs, but there are also extra-large balls for giant dogs and mini balls for tiny dogs. In general, avoid leaving tennis balls around for your dog to chew on. Believe it or not, the material in tennis balls can cause the teeth to wear down and pieces can lead to choking or gastrointestinal obstruction if ingested.



#2 – Cooked Bones

Your dog can choke on cooked bones

Many people think it’s safe to give their dogs cooked bones, but it isn’t. Cooked whole bones are very dangerous for dogs, not only can it cause choking in dogs, but the cooking process also increases the likelihood they might splinter and cause internal injury to your dog. Cooking also removes a lot of the nutrition contained within the bones.

Chicken bones should never be given to dogs. Raw bones can be given to dogs, but there are other problems with broken teeth, bones lodged in intestines and the stomach. To be on the safe side, it’s best to stick to the appropriate chewy snacks.



#3 – Gristle

Gristle can cause choking in dogs

Gristle is a popular table scrap given to dogs, despite its dangers. Gristle is difficult to chew and is one of the most common things dogs choke on every year.

When vets often say don’t feed table scraps, they mean don’t feed what’s left on the plate, fat, gristle, and skin. These aren’t any better for your dog than for you, so skip the leftovers and bones, and perhaps offer something more healthy, this will greatly lessen the chance of your dog choking.




#4 – Sticks

Sticks can be a major cause of choking in dogsSticks remind us of the older days of fetch with our dogs, but they are typically unsafe. Dogs typically sustain stick-related injuries in one of two ways: chasing or chewing.


Stick-chasing injuries are typically more severe than the stick-chewing injuries. Not only can they be impaled in your dog’s mouth when she’s running, they break into pieces and are easily able to choke our beloved pets. Stick chewers risk multiple problems, including wood splinters stuck under their gums (and other tissues in the mouth) as well as obstruction of their digestive or respiratory tract with wood.

#5 – Chew Toys

Chew toysChew toys can be very safe for our dogs, but it’s important to find the right kind of toy for the type of chewer you have.

A light chewer may be safe with a rawhide or a tennis ball, but heavy chewers will need tough rubber toys that can’t break into pieces. Whatever you buy your dog, make sure he’s never chewing on anything unsupervised unless you’re absolutely sure it can’t choke your dog.




#6 – Childrens Toys

Childrens toys can cause chokingAnyone with children knows it’s nearly impossible to keep all of the toys off the floor and out of reach of dogs around your home, and sometimes dogs can get hold of them. But it’s not just our poor kids we have to worry about (hopefully that toy wasn’t a favourite!)

Many toys are made of plastic, which is not digestible, it can lodge in intestines, stomach and we have to keep in mind that small toys are very common items that lead to choking in dogs.




#7 – Rocks

Dogs can choke on rocksIt might sound funny, but many of you probably know a dog that loves to eat rocks. Dogs sometimes try to eat inorganic matter that has no digestive upside at all.

Rocks provide an example of one of the more common non-food objects dogs chew on. This behaviour is sometimes called pica, the term used to describe the craving and ingesting of non-food items.

Chewing rocks can be dangerous to more than your dog’s teeth or soft mouth tissues. It can lead to intestinal blockage, vomiting, diarrhoea, or even choking, if the rock is large enough to block your dog’s throat.


#8 – Plastic Wrap

Plastic wrap can be dangerous for dogsMost dogs will dig through the rubbish if we let them, and sometimes mistakes happen and they’re able to indulge themselves.

Unfortunately, many items in our rubbish can be dangerous to our dogs. Plastic wrap is one of the worst, but often the tastiest, if it has contained food or something edible recently.

Plastic is one of the most dangerous things for pets to eat, as it has a high potential for becoming stuck and causing choking in dogs.



#9 – Bread

Bread is actually fairly easy for anyone to choke onYou may think that a few pieces of bread wouldn’t be harmful to your dog but too much bread can hurt your dog’s health because of some toxic ingredients in bread like raisins, or your dog may have an allergic reaction to wheat, and not to mention all the extra calories in bread that your dog may not get enough exercise to burn it off.

Bread can cause your dog’s stomach to expand which can be very painful for your dog and your vet visits will get expensive. Bread is actually fairly easy for anyone to choke on, with the way it expands and lumps together.



#10 – Hard Candy or Lollies

Hard loolies or candy can cause choking in dogsMost of us probably aren’t sharing candy with our dogs, but it’s important to know that hard candies can be a hazard to our pups. Just like with humans, it’s very easy for these to get stuck in your dog’s throat and cause choking.

Candy and lollies are often sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol can cause an increase in the insulin circulating through your dog’s body. That can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop and can also cause liver failure. Initial symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination. Eventually, the dog may have seizures. Liver failure can occur within just a few days.



Most dogs will chew and swallow almost anything, especially when they’re puppies. And although some objects may be small enough to swallow and digested with minor consequences, others may get stuck at some point – in the mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach, or intestines.

We would like to acknowledge that the above article “Choking in Dogs and Things to Avoid” was based on an original article that appeared on “The I love dogs site“.

Other pages relating to choking in dogs

petMD – Swallowed objects in dogs
wikiHow – How to save a dog choking
For Dummies –  What to do when your dog is choking
YouTube – Emergency Dog Health Care: What to do if your dog is choking