Everyone there is so positive and professional, and, although we came there for a sad reason, we are so grateful to have met all of you.
West Orange, NJ
When Casey, a 12.5-year-old MC Cocker Spaniel, got his little paws on a piece of steak, he thought it was his lucky day—until he started gagging and choking on it, that is. Casey seemed to be in respiratory distress, so his owners rushed him to Hope Veterinary Specialists, where he was seen immediately by Dr. Anna Hilton.
This sounds dramatic enough, but it rises to a whole other level to her Casey’s “mom” tell the story:
Our ordinary dinner turned into a traumatic night with one mistake—my mistake. We had just finished eating, and although we don’t feed our dogs “people food” often, I do throw some scraps of meat into their bowls on occasion. I decided to give the dogs a treat and I put some steak in their bowls.
Our 12-year-old cocker, Casey, not wanting to lose any meat to our other dog, scarfed down a piece. I had this crazy idea that Casey would actually chew the steak, but no, he just inhaled it—literally. He immediately started gasping for air.
We panicked and tried to do some sort of crazy doggy Heimlich maneuver. My husband tried to reach down his throat to pull it out, but he had no luck. I frantically called Hope Veterinary Specialists, and my husband sprinted out the door without even taking the time to put his shoes on. He was so concerned about Casey that he blew through lights to get to the vet before we lost him. Casey lost all control of his bodily functions on the way and his tongue had lost its color and turned gray. As he raced into the parking lot, staff members were waiting outside to receive Casey so they could get to work on him right away.
Casey had been previously healthy; his only ailment is intermittent dry eye, which is successfully treated upon recurrence.
Dr. Hilton directed that Casey be sedated with propofol and then intubated (a tube inserted in the trachea to maintain an open airway). Once Casey was sedated, Dr. Hilton took a look and was able to see a large piece of steak lodged in Casey’s pharynx that was also covering his trachea. She was able to remove it using hemostats. She also suctioned in and around Casey’s mouth to remove thick saliva that had gathered in those areas. Way to go, Dr. Hilton!
While all this was going on, everyone at Casey’s house was very upset, and understandably so:
Meanwhile, in the chaos, I didn’t even know where the children were. I ran upstairs to see one on his knees praying, one sobbing hysterically, and one sitting with tears streaming down her face and her fingers crossed. We huddled together and waited for my husband to call. It seemed like forever, but in reality they had worked at lightning speed.
Back at the hospital, out of concern for possible aspiration pneumonia (inflammation of lungs and airway as a result of breathing in foreign material—in this case, steak), Dr. Hilton and Casey’s nurses took chest radiographs, which were normal. Phew.
Everyone was relieved, especially Casey’s dad—as well as his whole family:
When my husband called to say that they removed the steak and Casey was going to be fine, there was such a huge sense of relief and a whole lot of celebrating! My daughter, Payton, quickly ran to her room to write a one-page thank you note because she was so grateful!
Casey was given fluids and antibiotics, which he would continue to receive overnight, along with nebulization (oxygen in mist form) and coupage (percussion by nurses on his chest in an effort to loosen and remove any secretions from the lungs).
Casey was happily discharged the following day, with only one sign he had been through this trauma: a possible slight (and temporary) cough as a result of minor tracheal irritation from the intubation. Dr. Hilton recommended Casey have a follow-up appointment either at Hope VS or at his regular veterinarian, Dr. Joseph Hyduke at Malvern Veterinary Hospital, 5–7 days later.
We have a feeling Casey still won’t turn down the next piece of steak…