Tree Branch Twinge Causes Mouthful of Trouble for Labrador Retriever

Adam Sedar of Frackville, Pa. describes his dog Bones, a 7-year-old Labrador retriever, as a loving and calm master of the outdoors. Bones is a life-long hunting dog who frequently spends his time trekking through the brush and trees to retrieve downed pheasants for Adam. However, one morning during a routine walk, Bones learned how dangerous the wilderness can be after he leaped off course and was impaled by a tree branch. Bones’ bizarre injury and relieving recovery have earned him the title of January’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance.

Everyday Adam and Bones take an early dawn walk along a forested path. It’s one of Bones’ favorite parts of the day. As Bones smells and investigates the trail, Adam commonly lets the expert retriever have some freedom to explore.

“Bones enjoys everything about being outside,” said Adam. “He knows what he’s doing so I usually let him get about ten yards ahead of me to enjoy himself. He’s never been injured on our walks and he’s usually very careful, which is why this whole situation was really odd for us.”

On the day of his incident, Bones was midway through his walk when he suddenly jumped off the trail. Although the jump wasn’t far, Adam could hear his dog instantly yelp. He rushed over to Bones and found him standing as if nothing was wrong.

“I checked out his legs and tail and everything felt okay,” said Adam. “But I could tell something was wrong by the way he was holding his head. I looked at his ears and neck, but nothing seemed amiss, nor did I see any blood. I couldn’t figure out what was causing him pain until I opened his mouth and saw a stick in the back of his mouth.”

Adam attempted to take the stick out, but it was stuck and Bones let out a yelp. After realizing the wood was embedded deep into Bones’ throat, Adam rushed him to Bernville Veterinary Clinic for immediate treatment. Once at the hospital, the veterinarian determined that there was more wood stuck well below what could be visualized through Bones’ mouth, and recommended he be anesthetized for minor surgery to extract the object.

Once Bones was under anesthesia, the veterinarian was dumbfounded by what he discovered. Bones had a six inch branch beginning at back of his tongue and ending deep in his throat. Fortunately, the branch avoided puncturing any vital areas of Bones’ body and he was released from the veterinary hospital after a short surgery and a few hours of rest.

“Bones is incredibly lucky that the branch’s path didn’t cause serious damage,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, Vice President and Chief Veterinary Officer for Nationwide. “Injuries from an impaled objects can be quite severe and possibly life threatening, especially when they involve the pet’s head or neck. Adam acted correctly by seeking professional medical attention right away and not trying to dislodge the stick in Bones’ throat on his own. Odd situations like this are prime examples that our pets can become injured at any time and that it’s crucial to be prepared.”

Since the incident, Bones has made a full recovery and is back to being the best hunting companion Adam has ever had.

“I’m so relieved that Bones is okay,” said Adam. “I still can’t believe the whole thing happened. I never thought that something as simple as our morning walk could turn into such a scare. We’re fortunate that we’ve always been prepared with Nationwide for situations just like this. I didn’t have to worry about veterinary costs and could focus on getting Bones the help he needed. With Nationwide we’re ready for anything!”

Pet Health Spotlight

An unlucky walk in the woods left 7-year-old Bones in need of surgery to remove a stick from his throat. In times like these, tests can be an important diagnostic tool that help vets administer the best care.

What blood and urinalysis tests do:

  • Help determine organ function.
  • See if there is an underlying illness prior to surgery to prevent complications.
  • Can have an effect on the anesthetic or medications your pet receives.

See the 5 ways to keep your pet healthy


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