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Summertime Fish Hooks

Summertime Fish

Its that fish hook time of year! In the past week, I have seen three cases of dogs and fish hooks. Two were dogs who had fish hooks stuck in their lips and one had ingested a hook-line-leader. It is a common problem we encounter, due to a large number of clients who are fish enthusiasts that also have curious canines.

The first thing you can do to prevent this is to keep fishing poles and hooks clearly away from your dog. This means keeping them out of reach especially when no one is supervising the dog.

If your dog does get into a fish hook and it is lodged or stuck in the lip or mouth, here are some pointers. First, be very careful taking action as the hooks can be very painful and even a good-natured dog may bite when in pain. If the fish hook is in the lip and has passed all the way through so the BARB IS VISIBLE (realize this is uncommon), cut the hook with wire cutters and remove the two pieces. Usually the barb is embedded in the tissue. This requires that the barb be pushed through completely before cutting the two pieces. Not many dogs will allow you to do this without chemical restraint or anesthetic agents. If you cannot push the barb through completely do NOT cut the hook, as it makes it much more difficult to remove the barb later. Seek veterinary assistance as soon as reasonable.

We usually sedate or anesthetize the dog, remove the hook, and treat with antibiotics to prevent infection. If a hook is embedded deeply in the lip, embedded in the mouth, tongue, or throat, or if it has been swallowed, seek veterinary assistance immediately. If a hook is stuck somewhere in the mouth, we generally use general anesthesia to safely remove the hook. If it has been ingested, endoscopy or abdominal surgery may be needed. Sometimes hooks can pass on their own if swallowed, but we monitor these animals closely as life-threatening problems can develop quickly if the hook becomes lodged.

I am happy to report all of our fish hook dogs from last week are doing fine. The two dogs with fish hooks in the lips we anesthetized and removed. The dog that ingested the fishhook (see x-ray below) had the hook, line and leader removed surgically and is doing well.

Best advice I can offer is to prevent your pet’s access to fish hooks and seek veterinary attention in the unfortunate circumstance that a hook is ingested. Although I haven’t mentioned cats, the same information applies, as cats can also get into fish hooks.