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Pig's heart treat nearly kills pet dog

PUBLISHED: 12:46 04 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:05 03 July 2010

PDSA vets saved a dog that nearly suffocated after her tongue swelled to four times its normal size - after she had been given a food treat.

The massive swelling had been caused by a ligature of flesh around the base of her tongue which was identified as the major blood vessel (aorta) from inside a pig's heart that she had been given to eat as a treat.

PDSA vets saved a dog that nearly suffocated after her tongue swelled to four times its normal size - after she had been given a food treat.

The massive swelling had been caused by a ligature of flesh around the base of her tongue which was identified as the major blood vessel (aorta) from inside a pig's heart that she had been given to eat as a treat.

The freak accident saw loveable 18-year-old crossbreed, Penny, from Renfrewshire, fighting for her life after she tucked into her favourite treat of a pig's heart. She received life-saving treatment at PDSA's Glasgow Shamrock Street PetAid hospital.

The aorta, the major blood vessel inside the pig's heart, had dramatically formed a tight band around the base of Penny's tongue cutting off the blood supply. Penny's tongue swelled to four times its normal size, nearly suffocating her.

PDSA vets rushed the dying dog through to their animal ER.

Vet Dermot Mullen said: “Our receptionist called through to say an emergency case had arrived. One look at Penny and I knew we had just minutes to save her life. She was bleeding profusely from her mouth where she had pawed at her swollen tongue. The prognosis was not at all good.”

Dermot initially thought Penny was suffering from a growth which had suddenly worsened.

He said: “It was very hard to see down her throat because of the size of her inflated tongue but once I saw the fibrous ligature, the cause of Penny's problem was clear.”

Even after removing the pig's aorta, Penny's life hung in the balance. The lack of blood reaching her tongue had meant parts of it had started to die off, which could have led to a fatal infection. Equally, the shock of the whole ordeal for such an old pet could have killed her at any moment.

Owner, Linda Donnelly had been told to fear the worst: “I was absolutely devastated. It all happened so quickly. One minute Penny was okay, the next she was stood in front of me with what can only be described as a 'monster' sized tongue hanging from her mouth with blood pouring out everywhere.

“I hadn't a clue what had caused the swelling at that point as she had eaten the pig's heart hours before. She's eaten these many times in the past without any problem.

“When Dermot told us what had happened I felt awful. She has them as a treat now and again but I never for one moment thought anything like this could have happened. Pig's hearts are now completely off the menu!”

Dermot adds: “What happened to Penny was one of those freak accidents.”


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