Recently, we received an email from Carlson Animal Hospital in Oak Park, Ill., about a photo they posted on Facebook, which showed an X-ray of a dog with a tennis ball lodged in his throat. It was meant as a warning to pet owners about the potential dangers associated with balls of a certain size. 

The post, which had four likes on Carlson Animal Hospital's Facebook page when we received the email, is shown in blue below in its entirety:

Tennis balls can be deadly toys.

These are digital x-rays of one of our patients who had swallowed a tennis ball during playtime at home. You can clearly see the outline of the ball in the picture on the left and upper right. It is lodged in the back of the dog's throat. Fortunately for him, it was not entirely occluding his laryngeal opening. He was able to breathe, but with extreme difficulty.

The picture at the bottom right is the ball, following removal of the ball while under emergency anesthesia. Our patient is doing well, but he was one of the lucky ones.

Tennis balls or other balls of a size that may be swallowed can be deadly. If swallowed, they frequently block the air passage. Please avoid using tennis balls as the consistency (size and softness) can readily lead to swallowing and often suffocation. We're always glad to talk with you about the best things for your pets, give us a call or come in for a visit.

Knowing this was valuable information for pet owners, we decided to share the photo on our Facebook page. That was on Wednesday. Now, two days later, the post has reached more than 50,000 people. On Carlson Animal Hospital's Facebook page, the post has 100 likes and 1,117 shares, plus 56 comments. On AAHA's Facebook page, the share has generated 50 likes, 230 shares, and five comments.

For an accredited animal hosptial that has a total of 164 followers on Facebook, these numbers are staggering. Proof that the sharing of good content via social media can be a very powerful thing.

Does your practice have a great post on social media that you'd like more people to see? Tell us about it! Email us at [email protected] and tell us what your practice has posted that is share-worthy!


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