Whole Dog Journal's Blog September 8, 2014

First “Whoops” Incident in Dog-Owning

Posted at 01:46PM - Comments: (13)

My son got his first taste of emergency veterinary medicine (and the resulting surprise of its cost) this weekend. Fortunately, it was for a non-serious accident, not a horrid injury or illness. But still: his college graduation present may well end up being a health insurance policy for his dog, Cole.

"I am just as surprised as you!" Waiting for the vet to enter the exam room, with a donut-shaped bone stuck around his lower jaw.

He was at a weekend team-building retreat for his sports team – so, a bunch of young men and a few of their dogs. One of the other young men had brought a raw chew bone for his own dog, Mister. My son caught Cole with the bone and took it away, putting the bone up on a windowsill; he (correctly) judged the bone to be poorly suited for Cole. It was too small for a big dog, presenting a choking risk, and donut-shaped (likely, a cross-sections of a cow’s “shin” bone. In horses we call that the cannon bone but I don’t know if it’s called that in cattle).

But at some point, Cole got ahold of the bone again and the next thing my son knew, Cole was writhing in distress and guys were jumping in, trying to see what was wrong with the usually ebullient young dog. It was the best-case stuck-bone incident you can imagine: it wasn’t stuck in his throat or actually hurting him, but Cole had somehow gotten the bone looped around his lower jaw and was freaking out. If he didn’t have canine teeth (“fangs”), it would have slipped right off, but any efforts to remove it caused the bone to pinch his gums and chin. The guys tried to get the bone off in a number of ways, but Cole grew increasingly scared and anxious and defensive.

My son eventually called around and found an emergency veterinary clinic that was open, about 40 minutes away. The vet gave Cole a sedative, but he still fought any efforts to manipulate the bone, so the vet fully anesthetized him. Within about five minutes, the vet was finally able to twist and turn and unlock the puzzle and remove the bone. The vet then administered a reversal drug, monitored Cole long enough to see that he awoke and was going to be fine, and that was that: $250. Ouch.

Lessons learned: Raw chew bones are awesome for dogs, but they need to be appropriately sized, and the dogs need to be monitored with them. If you are somewhere and there is a hazard that you can’t control (like 20 guys who might see that bone and go, “Hey, here dog, have a bone!” or another dog who may be a counter-surfer), you should put your dog somewhere out of harm’s way: on leash or in a crate or in the car (it was night-time). And pet health insurance is an awesome idea for a young, active dog who lives with a young, active, social man.

Comments (13)

My chocolate lab was diagnosed with $12,000 of surgery and treatment for his heart. From emergency surgery to a cardiologist, medications, etc... I couldn't have done all this without having Reagan insured. 90% of the bill was covered within 5 days, and I was able to say 'do whatever you have to do' .... money was not the focus. Getting Reagan best medicine was!

Posted by: MattyMom | October 7, 2014 7:21 PM    Report this comment

I have a Boston that I think will eat anything that doesn't eat him first! To make it worse, he is on phenobarbital for seizures which has the side effect of increasing appetite---he always thinks he's starving now! My Sheltie mix chews everything and is a picky eater but the Boston will try to swallow anything remotely edible. The other day he got hold of what (I think was) a mango seed (probably from the compost which I keep covered but he got into somehow) and tried to swallow it. I saw a bit later that he was having trouble so pried his jaws apart and saw the seed, managed to get hold of it and pull it out.
SO FAR I haven't had to take him to an emergency clinic--but I do think that day is approaching--only a matter of time.

Posted by: PJKutscher | September 9, 2014 5:56 PM    Report this comment

About insurance... Years ago Consumer Reports suggested that the most cost-effective way for pet owners to cover emergency veterinary care is to have a dedicated emergency vet care savings account. Contribute regularly and use only for care not covered by a typical insurance policy (read fine print).

Otherwise, the best insurance was a company called PetPlan (www.gopetplan.com).
I'm retired (Social Security) with three adopted and relatively healthy raw-fed dogs. So far (12 years) it works (3-4 emergencies (seizures, CCL tear, cracked molar removal, etc.).

Posted by: JackSivak | September 9, 2014 5:36 PM    Report this comment

Dear Lou,

I am sorry you had to pay so much to euthanize your cat. It already hurts so much to lose a family member. That vet bill was like adding insult to injury.

Posted by: SadieSue | September 9, 2014 3:43 PM    Report this comment

Our dog, Jax, doesn't get rawhide chews and the bones we get him have to be pretty big and we don't let him have them very long because the vet says that "avid chewers" really wear their teeth down quickly. We monitor his bones closely for size because in his young (18-months old) life, he has been to the vet twice for swallowing rocks and they were not very small. Once, he swallowed three rocks the size of unshelled walnuts, along with a short piece of string, a bunch of toy stuffing and bits of plastic. He eventually vomited it all up, but had to stay overnight for IV fluids and monitoring. Oh yeah, that night he also chewed through two IV tubes (final bill about $450.) BUT, we love him.

Posted by: Minimom | September 9, 2014 1:04 PM    Report this comment

...not sure where my comment went but I will repeat...

Note that the author indicated it was a "raw chew bone" NOT a "rawhide chew"

Rawhide is not recommended at all for dogs due to the fact that if ingested whole, they don't breakdown./ and B" they are often treated with harmful chemicals.

Posted by: phaulonius | September 9, 2014 12:45 PM    Report this comment

Note that the author indicated that it was a "raw chew bone" NOT a "Rawhide chew."

I have recently heard that rawhide chews are NOT recommended whereas raw bones, of appropriate size for your dog are necessary for a raw food diet. Make sure not to give cooked bones as they are more prone to splinter.

Posted by: phaulonius | September 9, 2014 12:42 PM    Report this comment

My dogs love rawhide bones, and they have a strong chewing instinct. I've been giving them either Pork Chomps or Smart Bones. The chomps come in different sizes, and shapes. Smart Bones not only have the different sizes and shapes, but also flavors. My bunch likes the peanut butter a lot, but they wouldn't turn down any flavor!

Posted by: Dogma7 | September 9, 2014 12:31 PM    Report this comment

The same thing could happen with a sterile bone or an antler or anything else that dogs chew - choosing the right size is important.

Posted by: Holly's Den | September 9, 2014 11:11 AM    Report this comment

Several years ago when my dear husband and I purchased our first dog, we were advised by the Vet to never never give any rawhide to any dog. He went on to say that most operations he performs are to remove rawhide from dogs stomachs. So, our dogs have never had it.

Posted by: DaisyMae's Mother | September 9, 2014 11:10 AM    Report this comment

Had this happen to my dog years ago. I didn't realize she had the bone stuck. I thought she just wanted to play...kept coming over and poking her head against me. Had to take her to the vet, after hours of course. They sedated her and then sawed the bone in half to get it off. Thing was, Maggie was my son's show and tell the following day at school. Luckily she was recovered by then and my son had a funny story to tell too. Always used to give my dogs the raw round bone from round steak. Never do now. I think things happen no matter how close you watch.

Posted by: Marilynil | September 9, 2014 10:35 AM    Report this comment

I have a little Yorkie and I swear, I spend my life with one eye on her. If I don't do that, she will inevitably get into some kind of trouble at the worst, mischief at best. Friends, co-workers, family always tell me, oh just leave Beanie with us and go and do your errands, etc. I TRY and explain to them that it is not quite as simple as just "leaving her with you". This dog has to be watched all the time, and every person around her has to make sure they don't step on her (Yorkies tend to dart around VERY quickly). Maybe I am being a worry wart, or over-protective, but I have experienced the consequences of not keeping one eye on her. And yes, I do (thank God) have pet insurance. Totally worth paying the monthly premium.

Posted by: Sportschick | September 9, 2014 9:58 AM    Report this comment

Dogs are like perpetual kids...they have to be watched pretty much their whole life cause instinct and survival has a way of taking over. Lucky your son got off with a $250.00 bill...the emergency clinic here costs $200.00 the moment you walk in the door...my cat cost me $500 to have him euthanized after he had a stroke on Good Friday....

Posted by: Lou | September 8, 2014 8:56 PM    Report this comment

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