Devastated owner’s warning after her dog chokes to death on ‘miniature’ tennis ball

Duchess lost her life after choking on the ball she found during a morning walk

A devastated dog owner from Minnis Bay is warning about the dangers to other breeds of tennis balls made for miniature dogs after her Bull Terrier choked to death.

Gillian Murphy says her dog Duchess found the ball during a morning walk but refused to drop it.

Gillian says she was not too concerned and expected Duchess to eventually lose the ball. But tragically it became lodged in her throat.

Gillian said: “While I was preparing her breakfast I saw Duchess  fly around the house in obvious distress then hide in a corner, pawing at her face.  I pulled her out and opened her mouth to find the small ball completely blocking her oesophagus.

“She could not breathe at all, the ball had completely blocked her airway.  I tried to get the ball out but it had gone too far in and was very slimy so I could not get hold of it.

“I then pushed the outside of her throat trying to push the ball up and out. It eventually came out but by then she had stopped breathing.

“I was heartbroken and tried to resuscitate by blowing air into her nose and mouth while my friend Anita gave chest compressions.  We tried for ten minutes but there was no response.

“ Anita called the emergency vet to see if there was anything else we could do and the vet asked what colour her tongue was.  It had turned blue which the vet said meant her brain was damaged and we would not be able to get her back. I was heartbroken and very shocked.

“Her breakfast was still on the worktop and she was lying dead at my feet.”

Gillian says she wants to make other dog owners aware of the danger that could be posed to their pets.

She said: “Duchess was known by many dogwalkers at Minnis for her zest for life and swimming ability.

“All because some owner took a small ball out with their dog but did not bother to make sure they took the ball back home with them again, Duchess lost her life. I really want people to be made aware of how dangerous these small balls designed for miniature dogs to use are to any other dog who is not a miniature.

“They are lethal.  Duchess was not big.  She was only a small English Bull Terrier of 24 kilos and this lost ball ended her life prematurely in a shocking and very distressing manner.

“She was only six and half years old and very dearly loved. We would like to raise people’s awareness of the danger these small balls pose to larger dogs. If another dog’s life can be saved then the loss of the Duchess’s life will not have been in vain.”

RSPCA advice on how to help your dog if it is choking

If your dog is choking look into their mouth to see if anything is visible. If you see something then gently try to remove it but be careful not to push it further down their throat or be bitten.

If your pet collapses or you can’t remove the object then place both hands on the side of your dog’s rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure, or lay them on their side and strike the rib cage firmly with the palm of your hand three or four times. Repeat until it dislodges or you arrive at the vets.

Not breathing

If your pet stops breathing have someone call an emergency vet while you give first aid:

Check to see if your pet is conscious and has a heartbeat

Open your pet’s airway by gently grasping his tongue and pulling it forward out of the month until it’s flat

Check their throat to see if there are any blockages

Close your pet’s mouth and breath into his nose until you see his chest expand, continue once every five seconds – if your pet doesn’t regain consciousness get them to a vet as soon as possible.

No heartbeat

Have someone call a vet immediately while you begin emergency first aid:

Feel and listen for a heartbeat

Gently lay your dog on his side on a firm surface

Place one hand under his chest for support and place the other over the heart (just behind the left front elbow)

Press down on your pet’s heart 100-120 times per minute (press hard for larger animals and with less force for smaller ones)

Alternate every 30 compressions with two rescue breaths

Continue until you hear or feel a heartbeat or you have arrived at a vet


  1. So very sorry for your tragic loss. I wish to remind everyone that accidental littering causes tragedy quite frequently to not only our loved companion animals but our wildlife especially our hedgehogs with their HOGLETS at the present time, looking for saucers of water as so dry please make sure your rubbish is taken home ie drink cans plastic and can pulls trap and injure too. Duchess will be sadly missed on her dog walks, BLUE CROSS PET BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT SERVICE [email protected].U.K. OR 0800 096 6606 daily 08:30-8:30pm hope this helps

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