The Vet Is In: Your Dog Swallowed WHAT?

Dr. Marvin Ordway
By Dr. Marvin Ordway December 15, 2016 18:11

What do pantyhose and a garden hose have in common?

Both were downed by patients at my Twain Harte veterinary practice:

A young cat had lost his appetite and was dehydrated, its owner reported. The diagnosis: It ate the pantyhose, which we surgically removed. And a pit bull chewed up and then swallowed a 12-foot garden hose, which we extracted section by section from the dog’s stomach.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Dogs and cats we’ve treated have gone through a menu that would do a yard sale proud: Gorilla Glue, diamond rings, Christmas-tree tinsel, hearing aids, kabob skewers, fishhooks, batteries, bras, sewing needles and much more.

We call them “foreign bodies,” and over the decades our practice has averaged about one case a week. Most – bones, chew toys, socks – don’t raise eyebrows and can be retrieved.

But when a cocker spaniel downs a tube of Gorilla Glue, well, that sticks with you. So we’ll lead this list of dietary indiscretions with his story.

Sticky spaniel This dog presented with a firm, round abdomen and had lost his appetite. The owner had no idea what his pet had eaten, but did mention that a tube of Gorilla Glue had disappeared from a counter.

Digestive acid had dissolved the chewed-up glue tube and its contents had expanded, hardened and completely filled the dog’s stomach. We cut the spaniel open and removed what turned out to be an anatomically precise mold of his stomach.

Diamonds are not forever That’s particularly true if within reach of a Labrador. Labs are prodigious omnivores, “land sharks,” if you will. And this particular Tuolumne County dog had Fifth Avenue tastes.

Its owner named his Lab as prime suspect in the disappearance of his wife’s diamond ring from a bedroom table. Guilty as charged, an X-ray proved.

The owner’s options: Watch his dog every minute and dig through every poop until the ring emerges. Or let us board the dog and do the dirty work ourselves, which was, of course, his choice.

Two days later we found the ring, cleaned it and returned it to the owner – along with an X-ray suitable for framing.

Sword swallower Leave a barbecue kabob unattended, and any dog within sniffing range may make a run at the chunks of beef, chicken or pork waiting by the grill. But a while ago an Irish setter – perhaps not wanting to leave even a trace of evidence – ate not only the meat but the metal skewer itself.

It was a foot long and, an X-ray showed, stretched from one side of the setter’s stomach to the other. Which was fortunate, because had it nosed into the intestine, the sharp-pointed skewer could have punched a hole and caused a potentially fatal case of peritonitis.

As it was, we opened the dog’s stomach and removed the skewer, which lived to barbecue again.

Needle noser What tempted this particular feline patient to swallow a sharp sewing needle remains unknown. Amazingly, that needle made it through the cat’s stomach and navigated its way through her intestines without puncture.

But with the end in sight, the needle went horizontal in the animal’s rectum, sticking to either side. We cut it in two, removed it and all was well.

Ringing Rottweiler The client told me her dog had eaten a “Buddha chime ball.”

“Listen,” she said, and from deep within the Rottweiler came a soothing ring that brought a sense of calm to our office. The dog itself, however, wasn’t so calm and an X-ray revealed a baseball-sized sphere in her intestine.

With the ball periodically chiming, we removed it surgically. Although perhaps without the inner peace it fleetingly enjoyed, the Rottweiler survived without injury.

In her cups “A dog ate my bra” are words I don’t remember hearing at vet school, yet not too long ago a client swore her 70-pound Bouvier des Flandres puppy just had hers for lunch.

“It has metal clasps on it,” she added with urgency, producing a bra just like it for me to inspect. Since the dog had just eaten the undergarment, it had likely not reached its intestines. So I give the young Bouvier an emetic, and it threw up the bra.

The owner and her dog left happy. And no, I never asked if she wore that bra again.

As curious as these stories are, they can teach us lessons.

First, never assume that your dog or cat won’t eat something. If an object can fit into an animal’s mouth, it can be swallowed.

Be particularly wary of batteries because of the acid in them, and also of corncobs, which can block up the digestive system like a cork.

If you suspect your pet has swallowed something it shouldn’t have, bring that pet to a vet as soon as possible. If the object he or she ate is still in the stomach and it does not have any sharp edges, sometimes it can be coaxed out with an emetic. However, if the object has sharp edges or it is already in the intestine it must be removed surgically to prevent obstruction and perforation of the stomach or intestines.

Also, linear items such as thread, yarn, needles and Christmas tree tinsel – all feline favorites – can induce intestines to move up and down around them, often resulting in dangerous tears.

Which, alas, can’t be fixed by Gorilla Glue.

Marv Ordway has practiced veterinary medicine in Twain Harte for more than 30 years.

Copyright © 2016 Friends and Neighbors Magazine

Dr. Marvin Ordway
By Dr. Marvin Ordway December 15, 2016 18:11
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