Border Collie Scout saved by emergency vets following late-night drama

A dog is lucky to be alive after a plastic ball he swallowed got stuck in the top of his throat – totally blocking his windpipe.

Border Collie Scout only survived because the spiky toy had a hole in the middle through which he was just about able to gasp enough air.

This amazing video and these remarkable pictures show the bright yellow toy wedged at the back of his mouth as panting Scout struggles for breath.

Staff at our Gateshead pet emergency clinic could see instantly how serious Scout’s predicament was – and immediately went to work to try to remove the toy.

Five-year-old Scout, who was highly distressed, was sedated to allow a detailed examination.

He was then given an anaesthetic so our emergency staff could try to remove the ball without causing him unnecessary pain.

Then our vet Sarah Douglass expertly used a pair of tiny forceps to slowly prise the ball forward millimetre by millimetre until she was able to safely remove it.

She then examined Scout’s larynx and was pleased to report no damage had been done other than slight swelling and inflammation.

Scout’s anxious owner Margaret Hewett and her partner Les were waiting in the car park outside due to Covid-19 restrictions preventing them from being inside the clinic.

So Sarah ensured they got regular phone updates about Scout’s progress – and they were overjoyed to hear the ball had been removed and Scout was breathing properly again.

Image of Scout the dog with a ball stuck in his throat for Vets Now article on dog swallowed plastic ball
The ball can be seen in Scout's throat

Margaret, from South Shields, said: “It was such an agonising wait – and I can’t begin to say what a weight off our mind it was to hear they’d been able to get the ball out.

“Scout is a huge part of our family but he’s actually my son’s dog who we’ve been looking after because of my son’s work commitments.

“So we felt doubly panicked – and doubly relieved that he was okay.

“The day it happened everything seemed fine. We were just back from a walk and Scout was playing with the ball in Les’s back garden like he had hundreds of times before.

“Suddenly he started retching and we could see that he was in real distress. The toy was no longer in sight and Les was sure he must have swallowed it.

“I tried to look into Scout’s mouth, but he was so upset he wouldn’t let me. We knew we needed a vet quickly but it was a Sunday and a lot of places were closed.

“To our huge relief Vets Now were open and the staff were brilliant – and very reassuring which is just what we needed.

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“Scout went off with Sarah the vet and he seemed to sense straightway that she was there to help him.

“At the end of it all, they brought Scout back out to us. He was a bit wobbly and obviously very tired but apart from that he was okay.

“We got him home and he just laid down for a long sleep – feeling very sorry for himself.

“The ball was part of a rope toy and the hole Scout breathed through was where the rope used to be.

“As a dog owner and dog lover you just would never know that an innocent-looking toy like that could be so dangerous.

“We’ve had a very lucky escape and Scout definitely won’t ever be playing with anything smaller than a tennis ball again.”

Senior vet nurse Ashley Wemple said Scout’s owner did “absolutely the right thing” bringing Scout in so quickly.

She added: “Time really is of the essence in this sort of situation. Poor Scout really was very distressed and it was heartbreaking to see him panting and gasping for air.

“I’m just relieved we were able to help – and what Margaret says about these toys is totally right.

“They look deceptively innocent and dogs can play with them for days on end with no problem – but if they are swallowed they can be a serious threat to life.

“So the safest thing to do really is to avoid letting your dog play with any toy which they might be able to swallow by mistake.”

Image of Scout the dog looking at a ball for Vets Now article on dog swallows plastic ball
Scout's owner says he won't by playing with small balls from now on

The Vets Now clinic in Gateshead – where Scout received treatment – is 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.

Vets Now has also recently launched an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available. While the service is not suitable for life-threatening emergencies like Scout’s, their experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns pet owners might have. If a pet needs to be treated at Vets Now, pet owners are refunded the online consultation fee.