I have just been through a very traumatic event this evening and I decided to write about it. It’s my therapy you see, writing. Here’s what happened.
I was walking alongside the duck pond in the park with my son and my labrador, Skye when suddenly I noticed my son looking upset and trying to get my dog to spit something out of her mouth. He had seen her gobble something up from the grass in the way that only labradors can.
Skye, my 19 month old labrador was shaking her head from side to side and gagging as if she was trying to make herself sick. She was very distressed and seemed to have something stuck in her throat. I began to panic in case it was a chicken bone as I know dogs can choke to death on chicken bones. My son said it was something long, like a thread so I prised open Skye’s mouth trying not to get bitten by her very strong jaws as she struggled with me. I felt gently inside her mouth, not wanting to do more harm than good and I soon realised in horror that the nylon thread hanging out of her mouth was attached to a large fishing hook.
She continued to gag and struggle and was clearly very upset and I started off doing all the wrong things.
Okay, so here’s what NOT to do if your dog swallows a fishing hook.
- kneel on the ground getting covered in mud, screaming hysterically “please don’t die” with your hand stuck in your dog’s mouth, trying to get the hook out.
- Spend 15 minutes trying to prise open her mouth and scream loudly every time she quite naturally closes her sharp teeth on your hand
Here’s what you should do: (which is what I did eventually but I should have done it a lot quicker:
- Get to a phone and phone a vet, even in the evening (which it was), and even if it costs double (which it did) – because your dog is worth it. If your dog’s not worth it then you shouldn’t have a dog.
- Keep a card in your purse or wallet with your vet’s number on it (this is one of the things I got right) -and this was especially important for me that evening because we were in a town 20 miles from home and I needed advice straight away.
- Stay calm -this is much better than screaming hysterically that you don’t want your dog to die.
After I was calm I was able to better assess the situation and decide what to do. I realised she wasn’t going to die imminently as she was still running around wanting to play albeit with the odd toss of her head as the hook was clearly annoying her. Therefore I decided I had time to get her to her regular vet as she could clearly still breathe.
Here’s two more things I did right:
- I tried to gently remove the hook but I didn’t tug on it as I didn’t want to make her mouth bleed and cause further damage. I was sensible enough to know my limitations. I’m not a vet so I left it alone after seeing where it was in her mouth. This was important so I could explain it to the vet and get correct advice.
- The nylon fishing line was quite long and was wrapped up in her mouth so I took as much as I could out of her mouth in case it choked her. It was then dangling out of her mouth and was long enough for her to trip on or catch on a bush which could have been dangerous so I cut it short – and the only thing I had available to cut it with was – my teeth! (yes, I love my dog enough to bite a nylon string which had been in her mouth).
Once I got Skye to the vet she was sedated so that they could remove the hook and what a whopper it was!
image by author
It only took the vet half an hour to do the whole procedure but Skye needed an antibiotic injection as well as the sedative and the bill was £202 because it was nearly 10pm and after hours.
What have I learned
- Watch out for fishing line and hooks near ponds, lakes and rivers and if necessary keep my dog on a lead near there. It’s just not worth the risk. Imagine what that hook could have done to her stomach if she’d swallowed it or even if her stomach escaped a piercing, can you imagine her trying to pass it!!!
- Act a lot faster if you know your dog has a hook on her tongue or her gum. Because I tried to help her myself I wasted at least 25 minutes. There’s no point trying to pull it out yourself, you’ll just cause a lot of damage.