Stories of freakish pet injury or death

This is a cumulative list of horror stories of pet ownership: accidents, rare but predictable, from which we can learn and try to avoid;  and the totally freakish,  nobody could foresee. There’s also some first aid pointers, in the unlikley event you find yourself in a similar situation. Whether or not this information changes your behaviour will depend on your attitude to risk.


Dining in

A six-week-old Chihuahua puppy is introduced to the family home. On the first night the owners go out for dinner. Their cat dines in, on the Chihuahua, leaving only head and liver as evidence. For a more graphic chronicle of the murderous tendencies of our feline companions, see what jeff killed.

Lesson: Always ensure there is adequate supervised time for the cat to learn a new puppy is a member of the family, not vermin.


Playground garrotting

Two dogs, off-lead in the park, one wearing a choker chain.  During play sparring, two loops of the choker chain catch over the lower canine teeth of the other dog.  As chain pinches, dogs start struggling then panic. Rotation of one dog’s head further constricts the choker. Without pliers or bolt cutters, owners fail to disentangle. Choker chain strangles victim, with the full gore of gasping, purple tongue, and congested bulging eyes. Both human companions in shock and tears.

Lesson: Don’t play with choker chains on? Take bolt cutters on walks?


Radical Pedicure

Two twentysomething sisters present with their canary, a badly crumpled wire cage, and the following account. Without any abrasive perching material, ‘Tweety’ desperately needed a nail clip. One sister gently restrained the bird, while the other wielded the nail clippers. The junction between the white nail tip and the vascular nail bed was clear to see and avoid. Everything was fine until Tweety struggled at precisely the wrong moment, and lost his entire digit at the knuckle. Blood flows, one sister faints and crushes cage on the way down. Stump of amputation cauterised by vet, to stem bleeding.

Lesson: When clipping the nails, of any animal, ensure you hold the digit very firmly. Gently close the jaws to grasp the nail in the correct spot, and only clip when position is correct. Small caged birds have a tiny blood volume, only a 1-2 milliliters, and any haemorrhage should be treated as serious.


Stick, splatter flick

In the park, playing fetch with a canine slave to the stick. Toss sufficiently short that dog arrives at touchdown just as the stick lands. With perfect angle of incline, parallel to the axis of the dog, stick impales the back of the throat, tearing major vessel(s) of the neck. Wailing, gagging, thrashing head, and pawing at face. Stick dislodged. Sufficient blood vomited and coughed up to alert owner to seriousness of injury.

Exsanguination in to an upper airway is a very rare and messy event.  Blood is aspirated into lungs, drowning  the patient. Death in transit to hospital.  Passengers and car interior resemble Tarantino film.

Lesson: Don’t play with sticks? While most stick incidents are not as terminal as this one, they are not uncommon, and Kongs or other blunt objects are safer, although not balls that match the size of your dogs fauces.


Deep throat ball play

A well-aimed delivery allows dog to catch a rubber ball on the full.  Failing to trap the ball with the teeth, it passes into the orophaynx, just behind the tonsils. The ball is stuck, unable to be dislodged by dog or owner, but fails to fully occlude nasal airflow. Despite some difficulty breathing, the dog remains conscious during the ambulance ride, only to be tipped into cyanosis and cardiac arrest by the stressful realisation he’s going to the vet. Resuscitated.

Lesson: Choose a bigger ball?  These events can also occur on food objects, like bones. They are more likely in the greedy, and elderly whose throat muscles aren’t as strong.

Like the child suffering an asthma attack, patients with an obstructive airway problem should be kept as calm as possible. Panic or struggle will increase oxygen demand, crank-up respiratory rate and depth, and generate negative airway pressure, worsening an obstruction.

How you manage to get the to the vet, without stressing the patient, is a tough one. If the patient lapses into unconsciousness, quickly plunge fingers down throat and attempt to extract a blockage. Mouth to nose, if they’ve stopped breathing.


Apricot Impaction

Cat opens kitchen cupboard in the search for food, while the owner is out. Box of dried apricots tips out on the floor. Greedy dog gorges on the entire box. Dired fruit reconsitutes and swells, resulting in gastric impaction and death. Owner mortified; cat unmoved.

Lesson: Don’t rely on the cat to babysit the dog. Dont allow dogs to eat large volumes of dired fruit.  A friend experienced a similar event,  afflicting a child, which required stomach pumping.


Ceiling fan decapitation

Cockatiel released from the cage for the usual indoor flight.  Bird flys into a bedroom, to be intercepted by the aluminium blade of a ceiling fan, at full speed. Immediate decapitation. The only consolation I could offer: ‘ at least it was swift’.

Lesson: Provided you can get them back in, releasing caged birds for periods of flight is important for their mental and physical health.  Always scan the enviroment for hazards before release: fans, cooktops, cats etc..

Teflon Gassing

Like a Canary in the coalmine, domestic birds are frequently gassed to death when their owners inadvertenty let the teflon pan overheat.  Usual presentation: sudden death, occasionally preceeded by respiratory signs.

Lesson: Many are unaware that overheating teflon releases gases, toxic to man and bird. A list of the toxins, and the temperatures at which they are released, are detailed here.


Still to come:

Sibling rivalry turned nasty.

Cat in the kitchen.

Surfing companion.

D(r)owned aeroplane.

Feline hanging.

Cooked Keeshond

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One Response to “Stories of freakish pet injury or death”

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