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Backyard Barbecue Leaves Curious Canine All Choked Up

Dog collar, leash, carrier or crate – many pet owners are prepared with these essential items when bringing a new dog home. However, as Calixte Defay of Bryan, Texas can attest, not all pet owners are aware that one of these items can pose a fatal threat to furry family members. Upon returning to his home one evening, Calixte discovered what would be a haunting scene for any pet parent: his Labrador puppy Beretta was hanging from the barbecue grill by her collar, and she wasn’t moving.

“Beretta was left in the backyard for a few hours. She had plenty of water and shade,” said Calixte. “She must have become intrigued by the barbecue grill, because she stuck her neck between the stances of the grill and her collar got tangled. Panicking, she twisted around until it became tighter and choked her. When I found her, she was immobile and barely conscious.”

Horrified, Calixte removed his canine’s collar and Beretta was immediately revived. The still panicked pet owner wasted no time rushing her to the closest emergency animal hospital for evaluation. The veterinarian checked Beretta’s vital signs and evaluated her pain level. Her neck had become extremely inflamed from the trauma. Fortunately, the pup suffered no serious damage and was sent home with anti-inflammatory medication for the swelling in her neck. Calixte is happy to report that Beretta is doing great and he encourages other pet owners to educate themselves about this potential risk.

“While incidents like this are rare, they do occur and can sometimes be life-threatening for pets,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Though it’s impossible to monitor them every second of every day, there are steps owners can take to help ‘pet-proof’ their homes. For instance, get down on all fours and examine the area from a puppy’s perspective. Eliminate objects that could slide beneath a dog collar and cause a choking hazard. It’s also important to remember that pets use their noses more than their eyes, which will lure them to objects like the backyard barbecue.”

Dr. McConnell also advises concerned pet owners to consider break-away collars, in the event that a potential danger cannot be removed from the space. “Breakaway collars are great for pets who may encounter unavoidable hazards in their environment,” said Dr. McConnell. “An example of this would be outdoor cats, because they have a tendency to climb trees and their collar could become caught on a branch.”

According to Calixte, Beretta now only wears her collar when she’s supervised and urges owners to take note of things in their yard that can hook onto dog collars, like grills and fences. However, Calixte knows firsthand that even the best pet parents can’t watch over their furry family members around the clock. “That’s exactly why I purchased VPI Pet Insurance for Berreta, to help cover emergencies such as this,” said Calixte.

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