When you go to the local pet shop to buy your pooch a new toy, you trust that it is going to be safe for your best friend. Sometimes, through no fault of anyone involved, certain toys can have the potential for danger. It’s not like some nefarious pet supply company owner is sitting in a dim office twirling his mustache and evil laughing about the risk to your pooch, it’s just that occasionally unforeseen circumstances lead to hazards for the ones we love.
On August 19, Jamie Stumpf posted a heartbreaking photo of her Rottweiler named Maximus. The graphic photo shows the Rottie with a painfully engorged tongue caused by a common ball toy.
According to Jamie’s Facebook, the toy in question was a Kong Beast tug toy. The ball at the end of the toy broke off from the rope. When her dog played with the ball, it then suctioned to his tongue causing serious damage.
The photos of Maximus’ wounds are incredibly graphic and we are choosing not to show them here. In fact, his wounds were so severe that he did not survive his injuries.
Last week, another pup was treated for the same injury at the Vergi, a 24 hour critical care animal hospital in Houston, TX. The dog, named Rooney, made a full recovery, according to the Vergi Facebook page.
These types of injuries are not unheard of. In 2008, the company Four Paws recalled its “Pimple Balls” for the causing the same problem. That toy caused the amputation of at least one pup’s tongue. The dog’s human wrote a letter calling for Four Paws to recall the product. She said:
“While chewing on the toy, a vacuum was created and it effectively sucked his tongue into the hole in the ball. From speaking with my vet, this likely occurred because there is not a second hole in the ball preventing the vacuum effect from happening.”
The balls at the end of the Kong Beast tug toys do not have a second hole to allow for airflow. It is worth noting that Kong’s regular rubber chew toys from their Kong Classic line all have two air holes to prevent suctioning.
We spoke with Hillary van der Zee, Kong’s VP of Brand Impact, about this issue. She told us that everyone at Kong is deeply grieved about the loss of Maximus and the injuries to other pups. They are a company of dog lovers and immediately took action to address the problem.
“First, we have worked directly with the retailers that carry the product and together we have placed a proactive hold on the product and are removing existing inventories from the pegs. Second, we have implemented safety features within the product to protect against any inadvertent misuse. These design tweaks will be implemented on all existing and new production. We do know that this product has been sold for over 5 years and up until this week, we have never heard of any dog experiencing this type of health issue.”
If you have this product in your home, it might be a good idea to keep your pup from playing with it. Check all of your dog’s toys to make sure that they have proper airflow to prevent the toy from suctioning to their tongue. It’s also a good rule of paw to supervise your pup’s play sessions at all times and discard all broken toys immediately.