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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Fishhook Injuries View In Dogs

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Fishhooks smell like bait and are attractive to any dog or cat, but its usually young pets who play with them and end up with injuries. Often, the hook ends up in the pets lips or inside their mouth, but it is not uncommon for a paw to be impaled.


A pet with a hook in his paw will limp, while a hook in the mouth can cause gagging, drooling, pawing at the mouth, or trouble swallowing. Hooks inside the mouth or down the throat need immediate medical attention. They can cause life threatening injuries when swallowed, and the hook and fishing line may need to be surgically removed.


There are many causes for this situation.


Diagnosis can be made by physical examination.


  1. Restrain your pet - It is best to have someone else restrain or treat your pet. To hold a cat or small dog, grasp the scruff of her neck with one hand and her hind feet with the other. Lay her on her side on a flat surface and gently stretch her out. Bigger dogs do better on the ground while you kneel beside them. Put one arm under and around your dog's chest and your other arm around her neck.
  2. Muzzle the pet - If she is not having difficulty breathing, muzzle her with a length of panty hose or fabric, leaving the injured area exposed. if you can't use a muzzle without disturbing the hook, go to the vet immediately.
  3. Remove the hook - Most fishhooks have barbs on the ends to keep the hook from moving backward. They also have an eye at the end of the shaft to hold the line, and that stops the hook from moving forward. To remove the hook, either the barb or the shaft must be cut off so that the metal can pass through the flesh unimpeded.

    If the barb of the hook has already passed all the way through the flesh so that it is easy to see, use a pair of wire cutters to clip it off close to the skin. Be sure to catch the barb and not let it fall back onto the dog or on the floor, where someone will step on it.

    If the barb hasn't passed all the way through, use pliers to grasp the shaft, then push the barb through the flesh. Remember that the hook is curved, so push in the direction of the skin. Once you can see the barb, cut it off with wire cutters and remove it as described above. If the hook is embedded deeply, you may prefer to wait for a veterinarian to remove it.


Keep all fishing equipment out of reach of children and pets.


Most mouth wounds heal quickly with no further care. Clean foot wounds a couple of times daily with gauze pads and antiseptic liquid soap like Betadine Skin Cleanser until they start to heal.

Usually, a foot bandage must be changed daily, or at least every 3 days. Wrap the bandaged foot in plastic wrap like Saran Wrap to protect it when your pet goes outside. Be sure to remove the plastic when your pet comes back in.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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