THE quick thinking of a Worcester vet ensured a happy ending when bulldog puppy Doug swallowed a ball whole.

James Tolkien of Severn Vets was able to safely and skilfully remove the squidgy toy using a special instrument which he was able to slide down into Doug’s stomach.

The use of the instrument – a slender endoscope fitted with grabbers on the end – meant surgery was not needed and six-month-old Doug was soon back home with owner Bethan Matthews, none the worse for wear.

However, the practice is now warning owners to be extra cautious about toys they allow their pets to play with to avoid a repeat of what happened with Doug.

Mr Tolkien said: “I’d never seen a case where a dog had swallowed a ball whole before, usually dogs chew them to pieces. I think this happened because the ball was small, soft and squidgy. I did a scan and could see an object in Doug’s stomach, so was pretty sure the ball was in there and was whole. I inserted the endoscope camera and was able to pull it out using the grabbers as it was pliable and it had stayed squashed.

“Clearly this could have been an extremely serious situation for Doug and we would appeal to all owners to be mindful of what their pets are playing with.”

The drama lasted just a couple of hours and meant Doug was able to avoid the need for invasive surgery.

Bethan Matthews, a teacher, who also has a cat called Sid, said: “I thought Doug might need an operation and was concerned as I know bulldogs don’t respond well to anaesthetic but James said he would see if he could grip the ball and pull it out. He rang me within half an hour to say that was possible and it was all over within a couple of hours. When I went to collect Doug he’d had lots of fuss and cuddles and was sat in his kennel quite happily watching the world go by.”

She added: “Doug loves a squeaky toy but he’s never having one like that again, I’m looking for alternatives and I would definitely urge other owners to be careful too. This incident has shown me that these squeaky balls might be OK for smaller dogs but not for a bulldog like Doug."