Chew toys are routinely used for environmental enrichment. Such toys are manufactured using compressible materials and may be designed with a single opening; however, this can result in oral tissue/tongue entrapment due to vacuum and suction effects, resulting in tissue strangulation, edema, vascular stasis, pressure ischemia, and tissue necrosis. This report described 2 cases of tongue entrapment in chew toys: The first involved an 18-month-old dachshund that presented 15 minutes after tight entrapment of the tongue (rostral to the frenulum) inside a chew toy. Under anesthesia, the toy was removed using a scalpel, dental unit, and scissors. The tongue was initially pale and edematous, but normal pallor and color returned within minutes of release. The dog was able to move its tongue and drink water shortly after anesthetic recovery and was discharged the same day. A recheck at 2 weeks was unremarkable.

The second case described a 2-year-old French bulldog that had its tongue stuck in a chew toy for approximately 2 hours. The owner removed the toy and presented the dog to the clinic with tachycardia, pale mucous membranes, and shock. The tongue was edematous, extremely swollen, and purple, with no evidence of deep pain or muscular sensation. After overnight stabilization and therapy, a partial glossectomy was performed. The dog was discharged the following day and no problems were noted at the 2-week recheck.

Commentary: Clinicians and pet owners must be aware of the oral injury risk inherent with certain types of chew toys, particularly those designed with a single hole. The pressure gradients elicited by chewing and play with such toys can lead to oral tissue entrapment and severe clinical consequences, necessitating emergency care. Early intervention can prevent permanent clinical consequences.—Indu Mani, DVM, DSc

Tongue entrapment by chew toys in two dogs. Rubio A, Van Goethem B, Verhaert L. J SMALL ANIM PRACT 51:558-560, 2010.