Sydney woman's warning after deadly find in puppy's stomach

·3-min read

A simple walk to the park almost ended in tragedy for one family after their puppy accidentally swallowed two fishing hooks on a waterside walk.

Maria Newport is urging pet owners to be vigilant with what dogs might be chewing on, after her 11-month-old puppy Zorro was rushed to the vet with a hook hanging out of his lip.

Ms Newport's husband Rod O'Connor was walking the family's Cockalier at the Spit West off-leash dog park in Sydney's Lower North Shore when he noticed the puppy had eaten something unusual.

Photo of a sad looking ark brown and light brown dog with visible black string hanging from its mouth.
Zorro's owners noticed he had a fishing hook in his lip. Source: Supplied

"He looked at the dog and realised that Zorro had a black line running from his mouth, and on closer inspection, he realised that he had a fishing hook in his lip," Ms Newport told Yahoo News Australia.

Urging people to be more careful

The couple immediately took Zorro to the vet, where he was given anaesthetic to remove the hook. However, an X-ray showed there was still half a hook in the dog's stomach.

They couldn't remove the hook straight away, resulting in the anxious family having to wait to see if their pet would require surgery to remove the hook.

Thankfully, the hook eventually passed on its own and Zorro avoided surgery.

Photo of a small dark dog swimming in blue water with a stick in it's mouth.
Zorro swimming at the off-leash park. Source: Supplied

"After 24 hours and almost $3,000, Zorro was home and safe," she said. "[The vets] did another X-ray on Friday and the hook was no longer there, so he came home on Friday night [two days after swallowing the hook]."

Ms Newport said she's considering getting a soft muzzle for the pup, worried that he might accidentally ingest another fishing hook again, but was shocked at how careless people can be with their rubbish.

"As human beings, we can navigate this environment, know what is dangerous and what's not," she said.

"Whether it's wildlife or our pets, we're messing up the environment and putting them in so much danger.

"Think about you know, what you're leaving behind."

Fish hooks 'common' injury in animals

Dr David Lee, the president of the Australian Small Animal Veterinarians group, said injuries associated with fish hooks are not that uncommon in coastal areas.

"We tend to see this quite commonly because you know, a lot of the owners taking their pets to the beach or taking them for swims and runs and things like that," he told Yahoo News Australia.

"It is a significant potentially life-threatening problem, and it can be very serious."

Dr Lee said the removal and damage depends on where the hook is in the animals and also how early it's caught.

X-ray showing a small semi circle object inside.
An X-ray showed half a fish hook in the puppy's stomach. Source: Source: Supplied

"I've seen some dogs where the owners have seen the dog eat a bit of a fishing line and there's a hook there and it's gotten outside on their tongue — which is still a challenge to get out but that's a much better situation," he explained.

"The other case scenario is that it's already been swallowed and then it ends up launching either in the oesophagus or in the stomach or even going down to the intestine. "

"It can really range from a relatively mild situation where it can just get taken out of the mouth, to a full-blown emergency operation that needs to be performed in an airway."

A spokesperson from Mosman Council told Yahoo News Australia fishing is allowed in the area except from the pontoon.

"Rangers speak to fishermen if they see any hazards left behind during their patrols," they said.

"The council has specialised bins for fishing waste in popular fishing spots, and beaches are regularly cleaned."

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