Tuesday 11th Feb, 2020

This is a distressing story but it is one we, and one brave owner wanted to share, to raise awareness following the loss of a beloved pet

Nine-year-old Labrador, Barney, tragically lost his life when he suffocated on a rubber ball whilst out for a walk late last year.

His owner, Jodie, is keen that we spread the message that pet toys can be dangerous.

“Barney had been out with his dog walker and there was another Labrador playing at the park with a rubber ball,” she said.

“Barney had picked up the ball. It fell back in his throat and he choked.

“A couple of people in the park tried to get it out of his mouth with their hands, and our dog walker tried everything he could but they couldn’t get it out.”

Barney was carried to the Roundhouse, where, despite our expert Emergency and Critical Care team and equipment, we were unable to save him.  

Three vets and multiple nurses treated Barney by unblocking his airways and performing CPR. Our team was successful in removing the ball from his throat but sadly, Barney could not be revived.

Jodie recalled how special Barney was to her and her family.

She added: “We got him from Labrador Rescue Scotland – at the time, he was an emergency case and I was only fostering him. He was diabetic and we later found out he was also blind.

“We had him for the two weeks of fostering and then we decided we wanted to keep him. When he died, I would say that he was in his prime after everything he had been through – he was such a good boy.”

Our vet, Valerie Allan, wants pet owners to be cautious when choosing an appropriate toy for their pets and particularly, appropriate-sized balls for their dog.

She said: “Barney will be remembered as the sweet and happy dog that frequented the practice.

“Sadly, we see many injuries to pets caused by toys every year; balls and sticks are reasonably common dangers for dogs, as is string and dental floss for cats. Often these can end up causing impactions in the stomach and digestive system or can cause issues with the airways.

“We want to warn owners and urge them to take care when choosing toys for their pets – whilst proprietary toys can be better than sticks and string, for instance, these too need to be carefully assessed.

“When choosing a toy, we would recommend using a knowledgeable retailer, such as Wizard of Paws, based in Pollokshaws.

“Here, you can take your dog and measure up the correct toy with expert advice on hand as well as choosing a ball that is appropriately sized for your pet’s mouth - one that cannot be fall to the back of the mouth and therefore cannot be swallowed or choked on.

“Unfortunately, despite all our best efforts, and in Barney’s case, the toy was not his, and for that reason we would also recommend caution if your dog is likely to pick up another dog’s toy at the park.

“We suggest bringing a treat or a distraction that will then bring them back to their own toys.”

Jodie shared a similar message.

“I would really urge pet owners to give their dogs the right sized ball and they should keep an eye on where their dog pets their ball when out walking. It would be devastating if this happened again.” she highlighted.

If you have any concerns about the use of a particular toy for your pet – please keep the toy out of reach until you are able to bring it along for expert advice at one of our practices.

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