Posted By: Greg - Vet

Vets Diary - Rosie is September's Pet of the Month

All too often dogs may eat something that they shouldn't and the after effects of vomiting and diarrhoea can be common. However, occasionally dogs may drink something that they shouldn't, and if they lap at a puddle of an unknown harmful substance, they could end up doing their mouths a lot of damage. This is exactly what happened to Rosie, and it resulted in her mouth being so sore that she couldn't eat or drink for two weeks.

Rosie is a young working Cocker spaniel who enjoys life on the farm, but one summer’s evening her exploits resulted in an emergency out of hour’s visit to the vets. She had run off for an hour, and came back looking really sorry for herself. Her head was held low, she was really quiet for a young dog and was drooling. She wouldn't take any food, and most worrying for her owner was the colour of her mouth – her tongue was a deep red whilst her gums were dark grey.

Once examined at the practice, it was obvious that she was quiet, and her mouth was really tender. Her belly was also uncomfortable, but the rest of her examination didn't give any further clues. It was concluded that with her escaping through the farm and the appearance of some nasty mouth ulcers, she must have tried to drink a toxic chemical substance, such as white spirit, probably mistaking it for water on a hot evening.

Rosie was given pain relief and a medication to protect her stomach, whilst her mouth was rinsed out with cold water. She was also given some charcoal liquid to take into her mouth to absorb any toxins, although she really did not want to swallow. She was then well enough to go home for observations that evening, and revisited the practice the following day. Rosie was definitely brighter but she had not touched any food or even drank a sip of water – her owner had instead syringed a small amount into her mouth every so often. Further medication was given and Rosie’s owner was to continue syringing water and tempting to her eat until she returned in 48 hours. If she had not used her mouth by this point she would need some help to take in some nutrition.

Unfortunately although she was much more like her normal self, Rosie still would not eat or drink, so she needed a feeding tube to be placed. This procedure is performed under anaesthesia, and a plastic tube is placed into her oesophagus, or gullet. An entry port to deliver food and water via the tube into her stomach was held in position by a stitch, tape and dressing, to the side of her neck.

Rosie’s owner was dedicated to her needs and provided her with regular feeds of high calorie soft food mixed with water whilst at home. One week on and on her return to the practice she was really bright and her mouth was healing, becoming a more normal pink colour. She still would not eat of her own accord, but by the second week Rosie started to show an interest and gently picked up some soft food with her mouth and swallowed delicately.

At the end of the second week Rosie was back to normal meals and her feeding tube hadn't been used for a few days, so it was able to be easily removed during the check-up consultation. She took a while to get used to lapping at her water bowl, perhaps because it reminded her of how she became injured, but after adding a small amount of milk to her water to make it less clear, she was gradually eased back into her normal routine. Now Rosie is able to eat and drink with her mouth completely pain free, but we hope she is more wary of puddles.

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