Mark took on his two Husky-type dogs from the DSPCA last summer: they had been abandoned by their previous owners, a common problem for these large, energetic breeds. They are good-looking and popular pets, but they are boisterous and energetic, so that after the “cute puppy” stage, they can be too much of a handful for many homes. Mark enjoys running, and the animals are perfect exercise companions for him.
A walk on the beach
Last week, he took the dogs for a stroll on the north beach in Greystones, a popular dog walking area. The dogs were at the far end of the beach, sniffing around the seaweed and washed up driftwood, as dogs often do. When they came back to Mark, he noticed that Frost had a piece of fishing line trailing from his mouth. It was obvious that he had swallowed some sort of bait and Mark realised at once that it was very likely that a hook was attached to the end, with the risk that it could become embedded in Frost’s throat. Mark had seen the damage that a hook can cause to a fish’s mouth, and he realised at once that this was an emergency.
The first thing that Mark did was to use his teeth to bite through the fishing nylon, detaching Frost from the larger tangled mess of nylon, hooks and general debris. Frost is a good-natured dog, and he waited patiently while Mark did this. Mark then tugged, gently and carefully, to see if the hook was free. He realised at once that it would not budge and that it had already become embedded in the dog’s throat. The only option was to get Frost to the vet as soon as possible. Mark called the emergency number on his mobile phone, and headed off at once to the emergency veterinary clinic.
A trip to the vet was needed
Frost was remarkably unbothered by the situation: he was as cheerful and bright as ever, despite the fact that the fishing hook was deeply lodged in the lining of his gullet. The vet sedated him, then when he was calm and quiet, x-ray pictures were taken of his head and neck. These clearly showed the fish hook, lodged mid-way along his gullet, between his mouth and stomach. It was a tricky situation: the hook was in a difficult area to access, deep inside the dog’s throat. If the fishing line was pulled in an effort to remove it, there could be devastating damage to the lining of his gullet.
The sedation was deepened to general anaesthesia, and a flexible video endoscope was passed into the dog’s gullet via his mouth. Tiny grabbing forceps at the end of the instrument were used to delicately and safely disentangle the hook from the lining of Frost’s gullet. There was a small amount of unavoidable damage where the hook had been embedded, so pain relief and antibiotic cover was prescribed for a few days.
Frost made an uneventful recovery: as far as he was concerned, life carried on as normal. Mark gave him soft food at first, to avoid stretching or irritating the damaged area of his gullet, and then after five days, it was back to his normal diet.
The two dogs love walking on the beach, and Mark has no plans to stop exercising them there. But he will be less relaxed when he sees his dogs sniffing at piles of flotsam and jetsam on the tide line. And he’s sending a message out to fishermen: please, please, tidy up after yourselves.
- Fish hooks are a common hazard for dogs on beach and riverside walks
- Gentle, prompt removal of fishing tackle from a dog’s mouth is sometimes successful
- If a hook is lodged, it’s critically important to get prompt veterinary help to have it removed