IT'S the x-ray that would send a shiver up the spine of any dog owner.
The skull and vertebrae of Chopper - a cattle dog/labrador cross - can be clearly seen.
So can the fishing hook lodged firmly in the pet's mouth.
The 13-year-old had to undergo emergency surgery on his throat last week after swallowing the hook which had apparently been left on a neighbour's lawn.
Owner Pat Wimhurst has been left $900 out of pocket and Chopper has 15 stitches down his neck.
"I was outside mowing when Chopper came back with a piece of fishing wire hanging out of his mouth," the Maroochydore woman said. "I went running across the road and asking for help. Little did I know he'd swallowed a hook.
"Chopper wouldn't open his mouth and he was trying to throw up."
Ms Wimhurst said if she hadn't seen the fishing line she might not have known just what he had swallowed.
She took him to Maroochydore Vet Surgery where an x-ray found the hook had caught in his oesophagus.
Dr Retief Botha said Chopper was actually lucky the hook had become snagged as he could have needed to have his chest opened up if it had gone down any further.
"In this case the hook was high in the throat but if it was further down it wouldn't have been the kind of thing a regular vet could have done with," he said.
"It was an hour-and-a-half-long surgery. We had to negotiate some very sensitive structures in the neck... arteries and veins."
Dr Botha hoped Chopper's experience would serve as a message to anglers to keep their gear packed away.
"The social message is for people who go fishing not to leave hooks and lines laying around. Not just for domestic pets but for wildlife," Dr Botha said.
"If someone finds a pet has swallowed a fishing hook it's very important not to try and cut the fishing line.
"Leave it where it is and call a vet immediately because leaving the line in could make the vet's job easier."
Almost a week after his surgery, Chopper is already back to his old tricks.
"He's back to running around like an idiot," Mrs Wimhurst said.
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