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A Christmas Miracle: would you be able to save your Dachshund's life?

Jane Ruutel writes...

This evening our eldest dog, Dexter, died.

We raw feed our dogs and have done for more than 10 years with great results. We have never had an incident before but tonight, Dexter ate his raw chicken wing bone too quickly and it stuck in his throat, long ways across. He tried to bring it up himself, then fear and panic set in. We were unable to get our fingers/hand down into his throat far enough to reach the obstruction, he was in just too much of a state and so frightened! We used the Heimlich Manoeuvre, we hung him upside down, we rubbed his throat, nothing worked, his tongue suddenly turned dark blue, his eyes rolled back in his head, he stopped breathing and his body went completely limp. Dexter was dead!

We put him on a sleeping pad on the table and hung half of him over the edge of the table, opened his mouth, made sure his tongue was pulled forward, not causing an obstruction, I then put my fingers as far down his throat as I could. I could feel the bone, but it was just out of my reach. Eventually, Harry, my husband managed to dislodge the bone enough for me to have another go and, thank God, I managed to pull the bone with meat still on out and clear his airways … but he still wasn’t breathing and his body was totally lifeless.

I laid him on his right side, raised his left leg and started heart massage, whilst Harry on the other side of the table, crouched on the floor, started mouth to mouth. This went on for what seemed like hours, but realistically it was probably only 3-4 minutes. We were both starting to lose hope, as there were no signs of recovery … but then, out of the corner of his eye Harry saw one of Dexter’s eyes flicker! It gave us the encouragement that we needed to keep going and with extra vigour we continued with CPR. Slowly but surely our boy came back to us and after a further 3-4minutes his eyes were both open and focused. He then started to pant and we could clearly see his tongue was returning to a more natural pink colour. Whilst Harry phoned the emergency vet I stroked him firmly but gently not wanting the heart to stop again, I wiped some water over his lips and then slowly let a small amount run into his mouth. Dexter was dazed and confused, but thankfully the panic and fear had vanished. Dexter was alive!

No more than ten minutes later, Harry got Dexter to the local Liskeard branch of our veterinary practice. There were two veterinary nurses waiting for him and they took him straight through and put him on oxygen. Five minutes later, the vet came running in. She gave him a thorough examination and thankfully apart from being very sore, his throat had no cuts or abrasions down it, his chest was wheezy, only to be expected after what he had been through, and his reactions were good, despite still being in shock. He had an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory injection. Shortly afterwards the vet deemed him fit enough to return home with Harry where, upon his return, he was greeted by a very tearful and shaken Mum (Me!) and three very anxious brothers who knew something awful had happened, but did not understand exactly what!

Writing down the events of this evening like this makes it look far less traumatic, frightening, scary and eventually miraculous than it actually was! Considering what was going on we both held it together remarkably well, but do not be fooled! We were both crying, screaming, cursing and praying to God, telling him that we would do anything he asked of us as long as he would just give us Dexter back. Then for reasons best only known to him our precious boy returned to us and if that is not a Christmas Miracle I do not know what is?

I have written about this evening’s events not for sympathy or attention, but in the hope that other pet owners will read what happened and learn some lessons from this trauma:

· Always supervise your dogs at meal times (if we hadn’t, Dexter would not be here now)

· Make sure you know how to deal with extreme situations like this. Learn exactly what to do in a medical emergency.

Learn how to do the Heimlich Manoeuvre. Learn how to perform CPR and what to do afterwards.

I hope you will never need to use what you learn, but I know that if we had not known what to do this evening it would have been a very different story I was writing about and I would not wish that on anyone.

I’m hugely relieved to say that this morning he seems to be back to his usual bouncy self. We have had our own Christmas Miracle and we could not be more grateful or happy for it. We hope this tale of events will be a lesson for everyone: never ever give up and always have faith!

Finally, huge thanks to the team from the Kernow Vet Group who treated Dexter at the Ellis Vets, Liskeard surgery that night.

Jane Ruutel, Cornwall

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