As seen on Episode 2 – Bondi Vet: Coast To Coast

When your best (furry) friend doubles as a fishing buddy, a sunny day out on the pristine Redland Bay water doesn’t get much better. Sadly, the Winter family’s trip was cut short by their hungry six-year-old German Shepherd Cross. Poor Ralph was caught hook, line, and sinker when he got a bit too curious with the fishing gear.

Mid fishing trip, fur mum Natalie spotted Ralph with her son Aiden’s fishing rod hook stuck in his tongue. Barbs of the hook were caught through the underside of the tongue, and the poor German Shepherd had let out a painful yelp, letting his family know something was seriously wrong.

Natalie and her husband Nathan rushed Ralph to Animal Emergency Service, where Dr Alex discovered Ralph had licked the fishhook, which had then lodged itself in the left side of his tongue. As Alex stresses the enormity of his situation, his fur parents discover how lucky he was… Had Ralph actually swallowed the hook, he would have been in a world of trouble, requiring an endoscopic procedure to remove it, not to mention the life-threatening damage it could have caused along the way.

By this stage, Ralph was visibly stressed from the ordeal and hospital visit. The family revealed that Ralph had medically diagnosed anxiety for which he was taking medication for, and Alex reassured them that he was in good hands, and would put Ralph at ease and dislodge the fishhook from his mouth. Once the location of the hook was determined, Alex prescribed pain relief and sedation to make Ralph more comfortable. Alex worked fast, as due to his anxiety, his worried parents were eager to have Ralph return home for the night.

Alex worked with Vet Nurse Leigh to place an intravenous catheter, allowing Ralph to be anaesthetised ready for the removal procedure. Once asleep, Alex’s priority turned to discussing a plan of action with Dr Lachlan on the best way to remove a fishhook lodged in this particular way.

Prior to working at Animal Emergency Service, Lachlan worked as a veterinarian up around the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef in North Queensland leaving him well versed in the practice of removing fish hooks. His method for releasing the fishhook is not one Alex has tried before (or even heard of!), but under his guidance, the pair begin the procedure. Alex works to hold Ralph’s tongue while Lachlan holds the shank end firmly and wraps a suture around the entry point. In a quick swift motion, Lachlan pulled the suture in the opposite direction and within a second the fishhook was removed from the poor pup’s tongue.

The procedure was far less traumatic than expected. Alex was surprised, joking that Lachlan’s plan had originally sounded a little bit ‘dodgy’ – but it had worked perfectly and left little to no trauma in its wake. With the team happy with the result, a saline solution was used to flush out the hole in Ralph’s tongue to reduce the risk of infection.

Despite being midnight when Ralph wakes up, the whole family arrived to reunite with their eager pup, who is more than ready to return home. As it was his fishing rod that Ralph had hooked himself on, Natalie’s son Aiden had been worried sick all day. A few pats and a big cuddle from Aiden later, all is forgiven and the family return him home to his happy place on the porch – where he watches over geese, ducks, chickens, and of course – his loving family.

Pets and wildlife swallowing fishhooks is, unfortunately, a common sight at Animal Emergency Service. More often occurring from littered and discarded fishing equipment. It is important to act quickly and seek veterinary attention so the hook can be removed in the quickest and safest way.

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