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Recently I saw two posts on social media about dogs who had their tongues stuck in dog toys. These toys have a hole in one side of them, and that hole can create strong suction that can result in a dog’s tongue getting stuck inside the toy. In the cases I read about these dogs could not remove their tongue and required emergency help.

This may not sound serious, but it resulted in $4000 of surgery leading to the death of one of these two dogs I read about. It’s an extremely serious danger.

Here is a story about a dog who suffered injury from a toy (please click the dated link or image in each quote for the full story and photo set – adding photos for synopsis because FB embed is acting wacky at the moment):

KongStory-saved

Play Ball!Rooney came in with the most unusual problem. We've had dogs who have eaten their balls before, but this is…

Posted by Vergi 24/7 on Thursday, August 20, 2015

And a tragic case where a dog was injured too much and died as a result:

KongStory-rottie

My Humble Loyal wonderfully loving family pet Maximus is in the fight of his life. His Kong ball got suctioned to his…

Posted by Jamie Stumpf on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The toy involved in both cases is a Kong tug toy called “The Beast”. This is what the toy looks like:

Tug toy by Kong called The Beast

Kong The Beast tug toy that has caused the death and injury. But would apply to any toy that has an opening on one side without a second hole to prevent suction.

The tug off the end has a hole in one side, which is problematic if and when it disconnects from the rest of the tug. Apparently this happens often enough for two independent cases of the same toy causing injury just this month. It is incredibly important that you check any toys that have a design where there is a hole in only one side without a secondary hole to prevent suction, and this includes tugs that may come apart.

It makes me so angry that these toys are produced without these issues in mind.

How to avoid this issue

Examine all of your toys that have an opening in one side. These are often “food puzzle” toys or durable plastic toys you stuff with food, but can also include toys that come apart like the tug noted above (this is quite common with aggressive tuggers). If there is only one entry point and no hole anywhere else to safely avoid suction, modify or dispose of the toy immediately.

  • Drill hole in other end. (please read update below)
  • Dispose of the toy (please do not donate them).
  • Share this important information with other dog humans.

And please always supervise your dog while he or she has access to toys and safely remove them when you leave the home.

Has your dog had his tongue stuck in a toy?

Has your dog had his tongue stuck in a toy requiring a vet visit? Are you a vet who has witnessed this problem? Please let us know the details about your story in the comments. Or, if you would like to share it in detail on this blog, please send your story and a photo that can be shared in the post to jen AT dogthusiast DOT com.

Please SHARE this post and/or the Facebook stories above so other people are aware of this issue. Thanks!

Update

Since writing this article, I have heard from readers about additional toys causing this same tongue-trapping and jaw trapping effect – including the classic Kong with a hole in both ends. In this case, the dog had the toy trapped on the lower jaw. I am working on this story, so please stay tuned for the details. We strongly recommend always supervising your dog when he or she has access to any toy.

About Author

Jen deHaan is graphic designer, small business owner, and dog person living in Bay Area, California. Jen enjoys learning about dog training and behavior, and has taken several courses and seminars since 2010. She also contributes articles to leading websites, such as Victoria Stilwell's Positively . It all started with a great dog called Mikey (aka "dude"), loved and lost but remembered forever. Jen also runs a freelance business focusing on graphic, web, and UI design at FoundPixel, and a small business creating hand crafted dog products at Stylish Canine.