October’s Pet of the Month: Max

By: Elinor

Hello everyone! Welcome to October’s Pet of the Month – we hope you all had a fantastic spooky season! It was another month for meeting some very lovely pets however this month’s Pet of the Month wanted to visit us rather dramatically one lunchtime. Thankfully there’s a very happy outcome. Without further ado, we’d like to introduce you all to Max.

Max is a 7-and-a-half-year-old German Shepherd who has never particularly liked coming to the vets which is understandable. We try to make all visits as appealing as possible but it’s still very scary for many patients. Because of this, we try to make all of Max’s appointments as calm and quick as possible and he likes to have both his mum and dad present. However, whether Max wanted to come and visit us or not, unfortunately he found himself with us as an emergency one rainy Tuesday lunchtime in October. Max had swallowed half a Kong chew toy – whole!

At almost 40kg Max is not a small boy but he found himself in some very sudden difficulty when he managed to chew through half of his Kong toy and seemingly tried to swallow it whole. Luckily, Max’s dad acted immediately and brought him straight down to us as the Kong toy was blocking his airway. On arrival, our fantastic nurses Abi, Joe and Charlotte began triaging Max. ‘Triage’ is a term used in medicine to describe the act of assigning urgency to a situation. For example, in human Accident and Emergency when you may be seen initially to categorise your injuries and get immediate care before seeing the doctor. Our nurses are all trained to triage emergencies, particularly during busy periods or when the vet is not immediately available. Max was taken to our theatre area where an intravenous catheter was placed whilst a full history was taken from his dad regarding what had happened. It was obvious on getting Max into the practice that the toy was well and truly wedged over his windpipe and he was getting less and less oxygen into his body. If we hadn’t have acted quickly, Max would continue to go downhill.

The Kong Toy removed!

The Kong Toy removed!

With permission from his dad, we administered a quick-acting sedation to reduce Max’s panicking and allow us to look into his mouth. Using the longest forceps we had (grasping tools used during surgery) we were able to reach into Max’ mouth and pull out the Kong toy which was sitting over his airway. It came out in one piece and immediately Max’s breathing began to improve. Due to all the stress and panic Max was feeling prior to the sedation, a lot of saliva had built up in his mouth with Nurse Joe cleared with forceps and a lot of swabs whilst our vet updated Max’s dad. As his airway had been blocked for some time, there was quite a lot of swelling around his throat so Max was given a steroid injection to bring down some of this and make him more comfortable.

Thankfully Max’s dad acted extremely quickly in this situation and the Kong toy that had caused his eventful visit had a hole in the centre to allow some air to get into Max’s windpipe. Had this not been the case, Max may not have been so lucky. Max’s visit highlights the importance of taking breathing difficulties in your pet very seriously – we would always encourage any changes to your pet’s breathing to be reported to your vet quickly. Max also always gets toys that are suitable for his size – this was the first time he had access to a smaller toy and it could’ve ended very badly. Luckily his dad knew straight away something was wrong and got him down to us. Please always ensure the size and type of toy is suitable for your pet. If you are ever unsure, please do not hesitate to contact us.