31 January 2022

Dog with face stuck in plastic toy prompts safety warning for pet owners

| Damien Larkins
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Dog with vet

Pepe was relatively calm, despite the unusual ordeal. Photos: Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services.

A dog has been freed after getting its face stuck in a cat toy, sparking a warning to other owners to be careful what toys they give their pets.

Chihuahua-cross Pepe was playing with the small plastic toy when it became trapped on his teeth and lower jaw.

His owners rushed him to Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services (CVES) to help get him free.

CVES Emergency Vet Nurse Keegan Diwell says the pup was luckily not too stressed by the situation on arrival.

“Often when animals get themselves stuck in toys like that, they’re often thrashing around and causing even more injury to themselves,” he says.

“Often animals will need sedation for something like that, but he was really calm.”

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The problem wasn’t just that the toy was stuck, it was “really, really stuck”.

“He could not get that off at all,” Keegan says. “His owners had tried very hard and they couldn’t.

“He’s tried to bite on it the wrong way, and his teeth have gotten caught right through the slats in the middle and he couldn’t get it off.”

Fortunately, it was a relatively quiet night at the clinic and they were able to help Pepe right away.

Keegan and another nurse held the pup down while a vet cut him free with minimal fuss.

“We were able to jump in really quickly, get a plan going and get that toy off within minutes,” Keegan says. “It was really fast.”

Dog with vet

Pepe might think twice next time. But knowing dogs, he may not.

As unusual as it looks, it’s not uncommon for the CEVS to see dogs trapped in toys.

“Maybe every couple of months we’ll see a case come into the emergency centre,” Keegan says.

“Generally, the dog will be able to get themselves out, which is great, but often if they can’t get themselves out, they’ll need sedation and then a bit of help to get it cut off.”

The situation serves as a warning to other owners to be aware of the dangers of inappropriate pet toys.

“Toy choice is a big deal. You have to take into consideration a lot of things,” Keegan says.

The quality of the toy, size of your dog, its personality, and level of (ahem) dogged determination to destroy toys need to be taken into account.

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He recommends ensuring you buy reputable brands, checking toys every few days for damage and throwing them away if they’re coming apart.

“If you’re picking cheaper plastic ones, generally your dog will be able to get their teeth stuck in it … and things can snap teeth,” he says.

“It’s definitely something you should be taking a lot of care of and doing a lot of research into where you’re getting your toy from.”

If your dog still finds a way to get stuck, it’s recommended you don’t use force to set it free.

“If your animal does get their face stuck in a toy, it’s also really important to consider that their jaws are quite delicate,” Keegan says.

“If you’re trying to pull that toy off yourself, there definitely is a risk of snapping their jaw.”

So if you’re not confident you can remove the toy, it’s recommended you call your vet.

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