The art of science and the science of art.

It's A Fun Game... Until The Dog Swallows It


If I told you that a tennis ball could kill, would you roll your eyes or laugh in my face? What if I showed you this?

X-ray of tennis ball obstructing esophagus

X-ray of a tennis ball caught in a dog's esophagus, courtesy of {link url=""}Carlson Animal Hospital{/link} in Oak Park, IL

Like a cork in a bottle, a fumbled tennis ball in an innocent game of fetch can lodge in a dog's esophagus with the unfortunate consequence of asphyxiating your pup. Aw, c'mon! Tennis balls? You never let me play with anything fun! Sorry, pooch. It's true.

So why am I posting this on a science art blog? As science communicators, we are charged with finding ways to translate science-speak into messages with broader appeal. Knowing that people respond to emotions more readily than to statistics makes a well-chosen image a great vehicle for opening up a dialog about safety. Don't you think this image on the wall of your vet's office would spark a conversation and ultimately set you straight?

Special thanks to Dr. Swindell at Carlson Animal Hospital in Oak Park, IL, and to Nic and his owner for allowing me to post their x-ray.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Email this Article