Did you know?
My son has fishing pole envy! We were up at Lost Lake on Mt. Evans and a little boy was casting away with his Dad and friend. My 5 year-old boy was quite jealous and had to be pulled away when it was time to go. I started looking for kid sized poles in the store and was drawn to the rest of the gear. The hooks caught my eye and I was reminded of a vivid x-ray I’d seen not too long ago of a fishhook lodged in the esophagus of a dog. It is amazing what dogs, cats and small children can find with which to get themselves in trouble. This particular pooch was lucky that the hook passed safely through the other end. But it all depends on where the hook gets lodged, internally or externally, for the type of care “Lucky” might need to get “un-hooked”.

Let me tell you why!
Fishing hooks can be quite attractive to animals because of the smell of the bait or because of the colorful wiggly fly. I’ve seen a fish hook poking out of a dog’s nose and have heard about accidents where the hook is lodged in a lip, in the tongue, on the face, in a leg or toe, and yes, even swallowed. Treatment for each of these can vary depending on the location, the sensitivity of the spot, the type of hook, and the reaction of your pet.

If you Google this topic you’ll find multiple sites that recommend pushing the hook through the lip of an animal then cutting off the barb and pulling the cut part through. My belief is that the percentage of animals that will let you do that are small and you run the risk of getting bit or scratched up should you go that route. The best bet is to bring your animal to your Veterinarian. The veterinarian can anesthetize the area around the hook, also called a local block, and perform the same procedure with less pain to the animal. The exceptions are aggressive animals that need additional sedation to be comfortable or animals that have actually swallowed the hook.

It really is true, and very important, that you not pull on the fishing line protruding from your dog or cat’s mouth. Pulling on the line can set the hook and make it that much more difficult to remove. Also, if you need to cut the line leave at least a foot or longer outside the mouth. The line can be used as a guide for the location of the hook and the fishing line has its own set of dangers if it gets swallowed and caught in the intestinal tract.

If the hook is still in the esophagus it is possible to sedate your animal and use an endoscope to locate the hook and then retrieve it with a special tool. If the hook passes into the stomach it is possible for the animal to pass it through it’s system with no further complications. Surgery would be necessary if the hook pierces through internal tissue and is unable to be expelled by the animal’s body.

The moral of the story…pets can get caught swallowing hook, line, and sinker.