Fishhook Injuries in Cats
Spring slowly turns into summer, bringing longer days and warm weather. During this time of year, you may want to grab your fishing gear and head for the peace and tranquility of nearby lakes or rivers. Frequently, you may want to take your pet with you, but unfortunately, fishing and pets don’t always go hand in hand. If you like the company of your pet, take care to keep him safe, especially around the fish hooks. Fish hooks can be ingested, embedded in the lips and the face, as well as the legs and paws.
There are two main types of fishhooks, the treble hook and single hook. Treble hooks have three hooks attached together, while a single hook is just what the name implies; just one hook. To entice the fish, the hook is adorned with bait. However, this bait may also entice your pet, and hot dogs, worms and even stink bait are quite tasty to dogs and cats. Commercial lures also turn a fish hook into tempting playthings as they fly through the air or flicker through the water.
What to Watch For
Usually you will see immediate signs that your pet has either ingested a fish hook or has one stuck in his skin. You might notice the following:
What You Should Do
If your pet has ingested a fish hook, transport him to your veterinarian immediately. Removing fishhooks can be risky, especially if stuck in the intestinal tract. DO NOT pull the fishing line in an attempt to pull the hook out of the throat. Just as in a fish, the hook will grab onto a piece of the stomach or esophagus and becoming imbedded, making surgery the only option for treatment.
If the hook is embedded in the skin outside the body (and not in the mouth), some pets may allow you to remove it until you can get to your veterinarian. Try the following:
Diagnosis of Fishhook Injuries in Cats
Fishhooks stuck in the skin can be seen readily without any tests. However, fishhooks that have been ingested require additional diagnostics.
Your veterinarian will most likely take an x-ray of your pet to help determine the location of the hook and help decide on the best way to remove the hook. Because hooks are made of metal, they are visible on radiographs (x-rays).
Treatment of Fishhook Injuries in Cats
Depending on the tolerance of the pet, placement of the hook and type of hook, sedation may be required, since removal of the hook can be painful.
Treble hooks: A treble hook has three separate hooks attached together. Initially, any hooks that are not embedded are cut off. The eye of the hook is also removed. Then, each hook embedded in the skin is removed as with single hooks. Treble hook removal is more likely to require sedation since it requires more time and effort than single hooks.
Home Care and Prevention
If your pet ingests a fishhook that is attached to a fishing line, DO NOT pull on the fishing line. Let the dog swallow the hook, then take your pet to the veterinarian. Gently hold the line to keep your pet from ingesting it. You can try tying the line to the collar unless your pet continues to chew.
You can try to remove the hook at home if it is stuck in the skin (as illustrated above). If your pet is not cooperative, do not force restraint. Have your veterinarian remove the hook.
Keep all fishing equipment safely stored away. Do not allow your pet free access to hooks and bait. Be very careful when walking your pet around lakes or ponds where fishing is allowed.