Doberman saved after choking on swallowed ball

February 3, 2023

An Essex family has praised vets at a leading referral centre for saving the life of their dog after the beloved pet was left choking and struggling to breathe when she swallowed a ball.

Owner Elliot Harris, from Hockley, said he and his family feared their one-year-old Doberman, Hiro, might die after the small ball became lodged deep in her throat.

Hiro was rushed to Linnaeus-owned Southfields Veterinary Specialists, in Laindon, near Basildon, as an emergency case, where Internal Medicine specialist Jennifer Raj worked to successfully remove the dangerous blockage.

A relieved and grateful Elliot said it was a traumatic time but, thanks to Jennifer, Hiro has now bounced back to her best.

Elliot recalled: “My daughter Eva was walking Hiro and she swallowed the ball of a much younger dog.

“She immediately brought her home and we took her to our local vet where they discovered a ball had become lodged deep in her oesophagus.

“Our vet was great but couldn’t perform the procedure she required, so referred us to Southfields.

“We were pretty concerned and knew she might not make it, especially as the potential procedure was not easy, but Hiro has recovered fully and is back to health and happy.

“We’re very grateful, as we received top level care and attention at all stages. Southfields is a fantastic facility with brilliant empathetic staff who gave us a clear understanding of the process throughout.”

Specialist Jennifer took charge of the case and said: “Hiro was referred as an emergency for management of an oesophageal foreign body.

“An X-ray confirmed the ball was lodged within the distal oesophagus, so we opted to try to remove it using forceps and endoscopic guidance under anaesthesia.

“It was challenging as the ball was difficult to grip due to its shape and as it was tightly lodged in the oesophagus. Thankfully, it was removed using this minimally invasive procedure.

“Everything went very smoothly, and Hiro made an excellent recovery. She was eating again the following morning, with gusto! It was lovely for all the team to send this sweet girl back to her loving family.”

While it was a happy outcome for Hiro thanks to Southfields’ swift actions, Jennifer highlighted the dangers of oesophageal blockages and how endoscopies can help, adding: “Oesophageal foreign bodies can be a life-threatening condition which require prompt treatment.

“If they cannot be removed endoscopically, they require thoracotomy, which is a major invasive operation in which the chest is opened, so endoscopic removal really is the best for the patient.”

Southfields, which moved into a new state-of-the-art £16 million animal hospital in Basildon last summer, offers specialist services such as anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, exotics, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, radiation and soft tissue surgery.

For more information, on the work of our Internal Medicine team at Southfields, click here.