Emergency vets save life of six-year-old dog by carefully removing spiky toy


It was nearly game over for this lucky collie after he choked on a toy.

Six-year-old Shep jumped up to grab the spiky plastic ball in his mouth but ended up swallowing it by mistake.

His horrified owner, Stuart Dick, of Stockton-on-Tees, soon realised something was badly wrong and with a friend tried to remove the toy.

But he could only watch in horror as his six-year-old dog, who has a history of suffering from seizures, struggled to catch a breath.

“It was wedged in his throat – we could see it there when we opened his mouth and tried to get it out. Bless him, he tried to let us, but no way could I have got it out,” Stuart said.

“Shep must have been very distressed – he went away under some bushes. He must have thought he was dying.”

Stuart rushed Shep to Vets Now in Middlesbrough, which provides emergency care for pets in the area, and thankfully the spikes on the toy were letting just enough air through to allow him to breathe.

Shep is lucky to be alive after a toy became lodged in his through

At the clinic, Shep was given oxygen and drugs to sedate him, before vet Hannah Willetts used forceps to retrieve the toy.

Thankfully, Shep’s now fully recovered from his ordeal, but Stuart says the incident has changed his attitude to dogs’ toys.

He said: “The whole thing was a freak accident as the toy was in long grass when I was mowing the lawn and a bit was chipped off the top which made it smaller.

“If that hadn’t happened it probably wouldn’t have stuck in his throat.

“Now if there is any dog toy that’s broken or not in perfect shape it goes straight in the bin. I’ve managed to stop Shep’s habit of chewing plastic bottles, and any footballs that are coming apart after being chewed go in the bin too.

“As long as dog toys are whole they are probably safe enough, but once they’re bitten and chewed and bits start falling off they have to be thrown away.”

Emergency vet Hannah, who works in Vets Now Middlesbrough, echoed Stuart’s views on toys and said Shep had been lucky.

“When Shep came in he was making a grunting sound and was clearly in a lot of distress. There was the added complication that he suffers from seizures and could have gone into a fit.
“Thankfully, we were able to resolve the situation quickly with the help of some whelping forceps.”

Hannah added: “Shep’s case demonstrates just how dangerous old and worn-out toys can be. It’s important pet owners throw out any toys that are past their sell-by date.”

An image of the dog chew toy stuck in Shep's throat covered in blood for Vets Now article on dog chew toy
The offending toy after our vet removed it with forceps

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The Vets Now clinic in Middlesbrough – where Shep received treatment – was recently rated as “outstanding” in the delivery of emergency and critical care by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

It’s one of 58 Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals across the UK that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

All of Vets Now’s premises have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.