A routine dog walk through fields escalated into a medical emergency for a much-loved pet after he inadvertently inhaled a head of wheat, which prevented air getting to his left lung.

Following what appeared to be an innocuous incident on a routine walk, three-year-old cocker spaniel Rodger began to experience abnormally rapid breathing and a severe cough.

After being rushed to Davies Veterinary Specialists near Hitchin, a CT scan found a head of wheat largely blocking Rodger’s left main stem bronchus - the first major branch off the windpipe.

The Comet: A head of wheat was found lodged inside Rodger.A head of wheat was found lodged inside Rodger. (Image: Davies Veterinary Specialists)


Katherine Clarke, a specialist in small animal medicine at Davies, said: "When Rodger arrived, he was struggling a lot with his breathing and was very depressed.

"He was admitted into our intensive care unit and started on oxygen to help his breathing. He was also moderately dehydrated, so was started on intravenous fluid therapy.

"At this stage we did not know the cause of Rodger’s acute onset, severe clinical signs. However, the cause became obvious once his CT images started to come through.

"Removal of the head of wheat from his lungs was relatively high risk because it could have caused a hole in his lung, which would have been a significant complication. Therefore, throughout the delicate procedure to remove this, Rodger’s anaesthetic was closely overseen by a specialist anaesthetist.

The Comet: The head of wheat that was removed.The head of wheat that was removed. (Image: Davies Veterinary Specialists)


"After the head of wheat was removed from his airways, as you would expect, Rodger significantly improved. He recovered from anaesthesia very well and no longer needed oxygen support.

"The following morning, he was almost back to his normal self, with just a mild cough, so he was allowed home. He has made a good recovery and has not needed any follow-up appointments.

"I am very grateful to work as a part of such a brilliant team, from the radiologists who read his CT, to the anaesthetist who kept Rodger safe while I performed his bronchoscopy, to the nursing team who cared so well for Rodger before, during and after his procedure. We were all delighted with the outcome for Rodger and his family."