Bracken has made a full recovery since the operation to remove the ball
A pet owner who became concerned when his dog developed a cough was stunned to discover the animal had swallowed a football.
John Grant took his Labrador, Bracken, to the Small Animal Hospital in Glasgow when he became unwell.
An x-ray revealed that a deflated ball, measuring about 12cm (4.7in), was lodged next to the dog's heart.
Vets said Bracken was lucky to be alive and would have died without surgery to remove the toy.
Mr Grant, 70, from Lenzie in East Dunbartonshire, said it remained a mystery where the dog had found the ball.
He said: "I don't know where he picked it up, though it may have been in the park in the long grass.
"He is quite inquisitive and noisy and boisterous. He eats anything - plastic bottles, golf balls, stones and sticks.
"He has been fine since the operation but it was quite traumatic at the time."
When Bracken was first x-rayed vets noticed an unexpected dark shape near the Labrador's heart.
The two-year-old dog had to have two operations, one last spring and one in January, after further tests revealed a congenital abnormality - a hole in the diaphragm between the dog's chest and abdomen which meant part of his stomach could move into the space.
Vet Damian Chase, who assisted specialist Kathryn Pratschke with the surgery, said: "Bracken had been fine and his stomach had been gradually moving in and out from this area in his chest, but because he had eaten this toy football it got stuck up there.
An x-ray revealed the deflated football next to Bracken's heart
"Part of the stomach moved and was sitting next to his heart with the football in it.
"We were surprised because when we did the x-ray and scan we couldn't tell what it was.
He added: "He is a very lucky dog. He would have died without the operation."
Over the past year vets at Glasgow University Small Animal Hospital have dealt with dogs who have swallowed everything from tights and bandages to crab shells and milk bottle tops, but Mr Chase said Bracken's case was one of the strangest.
He advised owners to keep a close eye on their pets and added: "You can't wrap your dog up in cotton wool.
"But if you know your dog is a scavenger he needs to be under control, even on a lead."