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"Jordan" - Pomeranian with Obstructed Airway
Photo: Jordan

"Don't bolt your food" and "Your eyes are bigger than your belly!" are 2 oft quoted phrases from my childhood as my mother aimed to improve my table manners. Whilst I like to think that my dining etiquette has improved somewhat since then little "Jordan" had a more dramatic lesson in the importance of mastication when he was rushed to our veterinary practice last week.

When he arrived he was clearly in a distressed state and his tongue was a nasty shade of blue. It quickly became clear that a "dog chew" he had been savouring with some relish had become lodged in his throat obstructing his airway.

In his enthusiasm he had attempted to swallow a food bolus which was simply too large to pass easily into his oesophagus. He had quite simply "bitten off more than he could chew!" Consequently, it was jammed fast across the entrance to his windpipe (trachea).

As you can imagine, for anyone who has experienced a similar situation, you are not entirely composed or relaxed enough to allow anyone else to go poking their fingers into your mouth! The only option is to sedate the patient to attempt removal.

Sedating a patient and thereby causing a degree of respiratory depression in a patient who is already struggling to breathe is not without risk. Timing is absolutely crucial.

Using a special mouth gag to open his jaws the second he was sufficiently sedated and then applying grasping forceps around the offending "chew" it was a tremendous relief for all concerned when the food bolus popped out and his tongue became pink again.

Will "Jordan" have learned his lesson? I doubt it. Perhaps, weighing in at around 7 pounds, he should stick to a few chipolatas over the Christmas season and leave the turkey leg to someone else!


Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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