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Posted By: Sarah - Vet

Oliver and the unusual foreign body

As bouncy, happy family dogs go, Oliver is usually up there with the best, but he was quite subdued when he was brought in at the end of June. He had just come out of kennels and was not eating and being sick quite frequently. Other than a high temperature and slight dehydration, there was nothing to alarm us particularly at this stage. He was given some medication and kept in on an intravenous fluid drip with the option to have further tests if necessary.

The next morning, he seemed a lot better and was allowed home. He was still fine when he came in for his vaccination and health check 2 weeks later. After that, however, there began to be signs that all was not well.

His owner told me that he was being sick every few days, sometimes off his food and stretching out as if his tummy was uncomfortable. He had lost several kilos since he was last seen, but was still bright and bouncy in here! Blood samples were sent to check his major organ function. These indicated a mild pancreatitis, which would typically cause exactly the signs that Oliver was showing. We started him on treatment to settle his tummy and a bland, low fat diet but when his owner telephoned me with a progress report the next week, he was still vomiting at times and had started to pass very dark, tarry motions which can occur with bleeding from the stomach or upper intestine. This was quite alarming news, so Oliver was booked in for  X-rays as soon as possible.

When he came for his X-ray, he had lost even more weight and was starting to look really skinny. The good news was that he had seemed to be feeling much better the last few days and had stopped being sick. We thought it was sensible to go ahead as planned and he was admitted. After sedation, the first thing that we do is to have a really good feel of the abdomen while the animal is completely relaxed. Imagine the surprise when I felt something firm, smooth, and rounded close to the ribcage! It appeared that Oliver had a foreign body in his intestine that, unusually  was not causing a blockage but had caused the vomiting and pancreatitis as it moved down through the upper part of his small intestine. Looking carefully at the X-ray, we could see a shadow in his abdomen although it did not stand out clearly like a stone or metal object would.

Surgery was planned for the next day and theatre and vets Martin and Greg were ready to operate. Under anaesthesia, Martin checked his abdomen – the foreign body had vanished! He was left to wonder if it had moved under the rib cage, had been passed out somehow or had been a firm area of inflamed gut and not a foreign body all along.

After talking to Oliver’s owner, the surgery to explore his abdomen went ahead and a round, soft green silicon cap was removed from his upper small intestine. The piece of gut where it had lodged was very inflamed, but Martin managed to manoeuvre it to a healthier area before taking it out. The rest of his intestine was checked carefully before closing his abdomen. He made a good recovery from surgery and later that evening started taking tiny portions of very digestible food. By the next day, he seemed to have forgotten that he was supposed to be steadily recovering from a major operation and was allowed home.

By the time he came for his post-op check, the most pressing problem was trying to keep him quiet and at stitch removal, he was so exuberant that nurse Emma had to advise that he went for a good walk first, and even then had to have a little sedation to allow all his stitches to be taken out.

It is one of the most unusual foreign body cases we have ever seen, Oliver is doing very well,   has all his spring back and has started to put weight back on.

And the foreign body? A cap from a lolly maker, noticed missing just before Glastonbury weekend, and completely undamaged after spending 2 months in an unlikely home!

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