My son reminded me recently of something that happened to his dog a little over six years ago. I wrote a post about the incident then, but upon re-reading it after talking to my son about it, I thought it might serve as a reminder to dog owners this week.
Last weekend, my son got his first taste of emergency veterinary medicine (and the resulting surprise of its cost). 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.
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 table; he (correctly) judged the bone to be poorly suited for Cole. It was too small for a big dog, presenting a choking risk, and shaped like a ring. It was likely, a cross-section 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 hold 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. In fact, ALL chew items need to be appropriately sized (GIANT is the safest size for any dog) and dogs need to be actively supervised while they are chewing. If you are somewhere and there is a hazard that you can’t control (such as a family member or a friend who might give your dog a treat or toy you haven’t approved 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 closed securely in a bedroom. And pet health insurance is an awesome idea for a young, active dog who lives with a young, active, social man.