Dog nearly choked to death on a ball

Play ball with your dog? You must read this terrifying story

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Anyone who plays ball with their dog must read the following terrifying life-and-death story. Details of the near fatal situation were recounted by the owner of a dog named “Torch,” who wants other people to be aware of the frightening risk that can go hand-in-hand with a game of fetch.

The situation began innocently – Torch’s owner explained:

If you play ball with your dog(s), you probably want to read this. I did not particularly want to share this story because I didn’t want to relive it… However, it needs to be shared. This was, far and away, the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced.

Torch was chasing a ball yesterday, as he and my other dogs have done countless times over the years. After he caught it, he immediately laid down and pawed at his face. I ran out to him, saw his mouth open, and didn’t see the ball. It was lodged deep down in his throat and he was choking badly on it.

Torch’s owner, Kirby, described what happened next:

Jeff was there with Slayte playing disc on the other half of the field and ran over when I screamed at him. I tried to do some kind of Heimlich maneuver, but that didn’t work. We could feel it deep in the ribbed part of his throat. Jeff stood behind him and gripped the bottom of his throat. I stuck my hand down his mouth to get it. Despite trying to get my hands around it, there was no way I could get it. Jeff was able to push it up a bit, but it slipped back down. Torch couldn’t breathe the entire time. Honestly, I was convinced that Torch was going to die. His tongue was purple and eyes were rolling in the back of his head.

Finally, after great effort, the ball was successfully pulled from Torch’s throat; Kirby wrote:

Jeff pushed up on his throat once again and I stuck my hand back down. This happened to be a chuck-it whistling ball, which has a hole on each side (doesn’t go all the way through). I don’t want to think about if there had not been a hole. By some miracle, I got my finger in one of the holes and slowly pulled it while Jeff still had his hands clamped on his neck to prevent the ball from going down. It took what seemed like an eternity, but I finally heard air flow in and was able to pull the ball out. He came to, but wasn’t able to walk right away. He perked up while carrying him to the car. We immediately rushed to the vet.

16681453_10208772561133058_7759695946647884237_n (1)You may believe that this was a freak accident – something that you personally do not need to worry about. Not so reports Torch’s veterinary staff; Kirby stated:

I can’t fully explain how awful this was to experience, but I will tell you it’s enough to ban my dogs from any ball they have potential to swallow whole. I didn’t even think it was possible. Apparently, if it can fit behind their canines, they can swallow it. The vet tech at the animal hospital said it’s not uncommon at all and they get this type of case about 2x a month. I wish I would have known before poor Torch had to endure that.

Miraculously, Torch is okay – he spent a night at the veterinary hospital for observation, but he is back to himself. His owner is sporting some serious hand wounds from the terrifying ordeal, but it was a small price to pay for Torch’s survival. Kirby said, “My hand is a bit beaten up, but I would’ve let him chew both my hands off before I’d let him choke to death. I’m ecstatic to say he’s going to fully recover before I do.”16730625_10208772558853001_5289903138838089545_n (1)

Please share this article – you may save another dog’s life.

Your comments are welcome below.

Note: Torch’s owner has commented on the hand injury:

Torch did not bite me purposefully. He has never attempted to bite me. I believe that he was trying to swallow the ball because he couldn’t breathe and in the process was opening and closing his mouth. In the midst of his panic from not being able to breathe, I cannot blame him for his reaction. This was not a situation where we could not get him to a veterinarian to remove the ball. We had only a couple minutes to get the ball out. The hand injury is not the concern of this post, but I really wasn’t trying to document the event for Facebook. I felt these few pictures were better included to bring attention to the issue here, which is to not throw a regular sized ball to your dog.

(Photos via Facebook)

17 replies
  1. Darla says:

    I’ve read stories like this before where the outcome wasn’t as good as it was for Torch. After the first article I read, I took away ALL tennis balls from my Labs and bought much larger balls for them to play with…the ball is so big, they can barely get it in their mouth but that’s what makes my dogs safe from being choked.

  2. Kathleen Drude says:

    This is very common! Unfortunately most pet parents and their dogs love playing fetch, tennis balls being the favorite! When a dog grabs the ball first thing they do is chomp down! If the ball goes to far back in the throat you have a choking situation! You have exactly 3 minutes before brain damage occurs! I don’t have balls in my house I counsel my patients pet parents to buy big balls that can’t be accidentally swallowed! This time there was a happy outcome but 2 out 10 times ends in a very sad way! Kathleen Drude DVM

  3. Barkley's Mom says:

    Thank goodness Torch is ok and I’m sure Kirby’s hand will heal. I have seen other accounts of dogs choking, mostly on tennis balls so mine only get to play with the large Jolly balls or the oversized Varsity ball. Thank you Kirby for telling your story, it it saves one dog, you have done a good thing!

  4. Sherry says:

    NO, that wasn’t some isolated freak incident. It happened to my dog. The 5 yr. old boy next door, threw the ball hard at my dog and she thought he was just playing and not trying to hit her with it; so she jumped to catch it. Since he hummed it, it lodged all the way in her intestines. We didn’t put this all together for nearly two days and she had an intestinal obstruction that was about to kill her. We found a large pile of foamy looking throw up hidden by her under our dining room table. She was acting very strange and kept throwing up. We got her to the vet just in time to save her! We had to have her operated on to remove the ball. Thank God my baby is still around and just as playful as ever. I think this kind of thing happens way more than is realized. The same dog, two years later , ATE almost an entire stuffed dog toy. Another partial obstruction. She is fine again after a week at the vet. Needless to say, we have to watch this one closely now!!!

  5. Liz says:

    I’m so glad you were able to save your beloved Pet. Your experience is scary, but well worth a few holes in the hand. My GS gal decided to eat a pin cushion the other day and ended up with an emergency endoscopy. She had swallowed 7 pins that were ex-rayed in her stomach. I quickly figured out what had happened and rushed her to the vet before the pins were able to make it into her Intestines. I’m so glad she was okay AND that I had Pet insurance. The Co. was so supportive and amazingly, they paid the claim in 2 weeks! If only human insurance was so good, and fast. Please be aware, folks – Pin Cushions from China are made from ground BONE!

  6. Kimberley Houser says:

    My baby shih-tzu was 6 months old she was choking on a pig skin treat. I almost lost her. Never give your pets these treats they are dangerous.

  7. Marilyn MacCallum says:

    It’s more common than you think. My friends lost their German Shepherd this way! Tried everything but the dog suffocated….Tennis balls are a huge hazard to your dog unless your dogs mouth is too tiny to get it all in. Want a good ball for you big dog??? Try a soccer ball!

  8. Josh pruitt says:

    Just yesterday our pitbull mix choked to death on a larger sized Chuck it ball. He’s been playing with the tennis sized balls for years without incident. The larger one got lodged behind his back teeth. My girlfriend was by herself and could not dislodge it because of his saliva and she recieved multiple bites on both hands. I know this is probably a rare occurrence with the bigger balls but it can still happen. I hope no one ever has to go through the trauma and helplessness that she experienced. We are heartbroken

    • Barkley's Mom says:

      My sincere condolences, your poor girl friend lived the nightmare we all fear. May she find comfort in knowing your boy died doing something he loved. Accidents happen and no matter how you try to prevent it, something like this can happen at the blink of an eye. My heart goes out to you in your loss. May happy memories help get you through the heartbreak.


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