If your dog is choking, they need help right away.
There is no doubt about that. The bottom line, however, is that they need help much faster than you can get them to a vet. You need to perform first aid before seeking veterinary assistance.
First aid for a choking dog
You need to man up (or is it person up now?) and try and help your dog.
Choking is a result of a blocked airway. The difference between choking and coughing is that, unlike with coughing, your dog will have a hard time breathing in.
The first aid for choking is removing the object that is blocking the air. You can try and see whether you can reach and remove the object with your finger. If you cannot find or reach the object, the next step is the Heimlich maneuver.
Do you know how to perform a Heimlich maneuver for your dog?
One of the reputable websites that outline first aid for a choking dog well is petmd. also recommend you brush up on your first aid knowledge and skills, while at it because this is one of the times when what you do is vital.
Do you know how to perform CPR?
If your dog became unconscious, you will need to perform CPR as well.
What to do after you resolve the immediate crisis
After the whole ordeal is over, it is still the best idea to take your dog to an emergency vet in most cases.
I admit that when Cookie started choking on a dental rawhide, I did not rush her to a vet. Firstly, it rawhide got stuck to the soft palate, partially blocking the air but not entering the airways. Cookie could still breathe, just with difficulty. Cookie never stopped breathing or lost consciousness. I was able to remove the whole thing quickly, and Cookie was immediately back to her normal self.
Seeking veterinary help after a choking incident might be a judgment call but always err on the side of caution.
If my dog stopped breathing or lost consciousness at any point, I’d proceed to the emergency clinic. If my dog continued to have difficulties I’d see a vet right away. If there were any doubt that the whole object might not have been removed, I’d be on my way.