March 8, 2022 12.09 pm

Ouch! Dog’s tongue swells inside ball stuck for hours

Vets may have had to amputate his tongue

A Lincoln dog narrowly avoided tongue amputation after getting it stuck for several hours inside his favourite plaything, highlighting the danger of old and broken toys.

Two year old loveable Labrador-German Shepherd cross Harley has made a remarkable recovery thanks to emergency vets at the Vets Now emergency clinic in Lincoln.

At first, owner Lindsay Knight didn’t realise something was wrong as Harley played with his green ball. It was a few hours before she realised he had probed a hole in the toy, getting his tongue stuck inside: “He’s just a lovely, gentle giant. That green ball is everything to him. It used to have a squeaker in it but that came out leaving a little hole.

“He loves it and carries it everywhere with him, so I didn’t think anything of it when I saw it in his mouth.

“He had it on the school run and later in the car and then when he was lying on the sofa. It was there all day but there was no sign at all of him struggling to get it off or being distressed so I didn’t realise there was a problem. 

“I actually took a picture of him and sent it to my sister-in-law as he looked so cute. It was only when she joked that it may be stuck that I went to check.”

The extent of the swelling on Harley’s tongue once retracted from the ball. | Photo: Vets Now

Horrifyingly, Lindsay discovered the ball was lodged on Harley’s tongue and no measure of gentle manipulation and tugging would free it: “It was horrible, Adam [Lindsay’s husband] and I tried for ages and even cut a hole to let some air out but that didn’t help. 

“It was such a scary thing and I felt so guilty for not noticing. It was quite late in the evening by this time and we knew we needed urgent help, so we called Vets Now straight away.”

The couple were directed to the emergency Lincoln clinic immediately and Adam rushed Harley there, whilst Lindsay looked after their other dog, Darcey, at home.

“We had to sedate Harley to do a proper examination and see how we might manage to get the ball off,” said senior vet nurse Emma Ward. 

“About a third of the tongue was stuck in the ball and it was really badly swollen. The vet made some small incisions into the ball while I pulled it apart and eventually we managed to cut if off. 

Harley with his tongue stuck in the old and worn green ball | Photo: Vets Now

“The tongue was very bruised as well as swollen and some of the top layer had come off. We couldn’t stitch it and there was a danger of it going necrotic and needing amputation but that wouldn’t be known for a few days.”

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case and Harley has made an excellent recovery as the swelling receded and he is able to eat and drink normally.

Harley recovering at home providing Darcey with a snug spot. | Photo: Vets Now

Emma gave a warning to dog owners about the dangers of broken, worn or faulty toys: “Dog owners need to be vigilant when it comes to toys. Some are terribly made and nowhere near robust enough.  

“Our teams have treated scores of sick dogs who have swallowed badly-made, broken or worn-out toys, with some requiring surgery to remove the product from their stomach, throat or intestines.”

The ball that was stuck on Harley’s tongue. | Photo: Vets Now

Lindsay said that it was a huge relief seeing Harley home in the early hours of the morning: “He couldn’t get his tongue in his mouth at first, but it’s healed incredibly well. Darcey and Harley are inseparable, and she was really upset and wouldn’t settle until he was home. I cried when we got him home. 

“We’re just happy everything turned out okay and so thankful Vets Now were there when we needed them.”

Harley and Darcey now, inseparable as ever. | Photo: Vets Now