Dog left struggling for breath after feeder ball gets stuck in mouth

An adorable dog ended up in an urgent dash to the vets after she got a feeder ball stuck to her mouth.

Bichon Frise Molly was playing with the red toy, the size of a mini football, when it became immovably wedged on her lower jaw. The drama happened when the five-year-old’s owner Caroline Lancaster turned her back for a second to get something from another room. When she came back, to her horror Caroline saw little Molly panting and struggling for breath and trying to drag the ball along the floor to release it.

Caroline and her partner Lincoln both tried to prise the ball off – but it was set solid and just wouldn’t budge.

With Molly getting increasingly distressed, Caroline phoned the Vets Now pet emergency clinic in Hull where staff urged her to bring Molly in straightaway.

Senior vet Susana Jauregui who works at Vets Now in Hull said: “Not surprisingly, Molly was really out of breath when we admitted her, and her heart rate was rising. By that point the ball had been stuck in her mouth for three hours or so and poor Caroline had had a nightmare trying to get help – until she found us.  There was a real danger that it could lead to a fractured jaw or block Molly’s airway, so we admitted her straightaway and went to work.

“We put Molly on an intravenous drip to keep her hydrated because she couldn’t drink. Then we gave her painkillers and sedatives and inserted an endotracheal tube to guarantee her airway wouldn’t get blocked. I was expecting to have to cut the plastic into pieces to remove it. But after we got Molly settled, I was actually able to move the ball slightly from side to side and then up and down. Slowly, it began to loosen off slightly and then I was able to unhook the ball. Molly had a small laceration on the gums in the left canine but apart from the initial scare she was absolutely fine.”

An hour or so later, a tired and wobbly Molly was well enough to go back with Caroline and Lincoln to their home in Brough, East Yorkshire.

Relieved Caroline said: “We’re so grateful to Susana and the Vets Now team for being there when we needed them – and when Molly needed them.

They were so kind and thoughtful – it made what was a really stressful experience much easier to deal with. I can’t bear to think of anything untoward happening to Molly – it’s too upsetting. She is a very special dog.

“My father passed away four years ago. I was only 15 at the time and I took it very hard. We got Molly nearly two years ago now and it has just changed my life for the better in so many ways.  Molly is the most loving, funny and cuddly little dog ever – and she’s pretty much always by my side.”

Feeder balls like the one Molly was playing with have little compartments in which treats, and biscuits can be placed.

Caroline said: “We’ve learned our lesson the hard way, but these balls should really come with a safety warning.  We got ours on Amazon and I messaged the supplier, who has now put a warning up. But if anyone is thinking about getting their dog one of these balls for Christmas, I’d advise them to think very, very carefully about it. The good news for us is that Molly is totally recovered and is back to her normal cheeky, cute and mischievous self.”

Susana added: “Molly was such a lovely, sweet-natured little dog. We were so pleased to be able to help – but Caroline is right: although these toys may look innocent some cheaper versions can be dangerous and, in many ways, Molly had a lucky escape.”

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 also offer an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available.

While the service is not suitable for life-threatening emergencies, experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns pet owners might have.  If a pet needs an in-person follow-up appointment at any vet practice, Vets Now will refund the online consultation fee, so owners never pay twice.