Vet and vet nurse work together to free ‘foreign object’ lodged in Zeb’s throat

This was the happy scene when relieved veterinary staff saved a dog’s life by plucking a three-inch toy from deep inside his throat.

Twelve-year-old Zeb had accidentally swallowed the rubber toy and it had lodged in his oesophagus, causing him to pant and retch.

Thankfully, however, the Alsatian-collie cross survived the ordeal thanks to the deft work of vet surgeon Manuel Vega-Sillero and vet nurse Larna Russell.

Image of vet surgeon Manuel Sillero and vet nurse Larna Russell for Vets Now article on vets saving dog who swallowed toy
Vet surgeon Manuel Vega-Sillero and vet nurse Larna Russell

Larna, who works in our Salisbury clinic, explained: “When Zeb arrived he was drooling a lot but was bright and responsive. We carried out an x-ray and couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw the toy lodged in his oesophagus.”

Zeb was put under general anaesthetic and Manuel set about removing the stuck toy with a specialised surgical instrument. After several failed attempts to dislodge it, it eventually became free.

“It felt like we were trying forever,” said Larna. “When we finally managed to get it out we were so pleased we started jumping around the clinic giving each other ‘high-fives’. It was such a big relief.”

Owner Tony Wells, of Warminster, was thankful Zeb didn’t require surgery as it can be riskier for older dogs. He explained that Zeb had inadvertently picked up a toy meant for one of his three smaller dogs.

Tony said: “They’re all rescue dogs and they each have one of those toys. Zeb has a big version and the others have the smallest you can buy. Usually, we give them to the dogs with a treat inside and once they’ve finished we wash and put them away.

“But when I came home I knew Zeb wasn’t right and when my wife, Tanya, said she seemed to have lost a toy somewhere I guessed straight away that he’d swallowed it.”

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As time went on Zeb, who wasn’t expected to survive puppyhood after being diagnosed with parvovirus, became more distressed and when he started foaming at the mouth Tony made the decision to rush him to Vets Now in Salisbury which provides emergency care for pets in the area.

Since the unfortunate incident, Zeb has, thankfully, recovered from his ordeal — and his owner insists there’s no risk of history repeating itself.

Tony explained: “Zeb swallowed the same toy once before and coughed it back up again so we were always very careful, but it won’t be happening again because we got rid of the toys straight away.”

Image of x-ray showing dog swallowed toy for Vets Now article on dog swallowing toy
The small toy can clearly be seen in Zeb's X-ray

Larna said owners should be careful when choosing which toys to give their dogs — and never to throw them sticks as an alternative.

She added: “It’s amazing how many dogs we see who have swallowed something they shouldn’t have or been injured playing with sharp objects such as sticks. If your dog has ingested a foreign object you should seek urgent veterinary advice.”

The Vets Now clinic in Salisbury — where Zeb 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 a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals 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 out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.