Bruno is a lively and lovely 6 month old English Bull Terrier. He is known for chewing sticks but his owners were not aware just how many other things he had chewed !
Whilst he was playing he was seen to swallow a bright red foam rubber ball whole. The ball was large enough to obstruct the outflow from his stomach or, if it had gone in to his intestines, it would block them. Bruno was initially seen by another vets so, by the time we saw him, it was 24 hrs after he had first swallowed the ball. He was still bright and hadn’t vomited.
When a dog swallows something that we think may cause an obstruction we have several options as to how to manage them. We can cause the dog to vomit using an injection and, often, the object will return. This generally only works when it has been swallowed recently.
Endoscopy using a scope put down the throat in to the oesophagus can visualise the object and it can be grabbed using tiny forceps. This tends to be effective with thin items or objects made of material such as socks. It is safer for the dog than surgery but does require anaesthesia.
Unfortunately for Bruno, the ball had been present for too long and was not a shape that could be removed using the scope so, once xrays confirmed that a foreign body was present in his stomach, he was taken to surgery.
Once inside we could see and feel that his stomach was full of material. An incision was made over one solid piece of material and a large hollow piece of clear plastic was identified. This was removed and a steady flow of large pieces of yellow rubber, chewed up stick and, finally, the intact red ball were removed until his stomach was empty.
A careful systematic check of his small intestines was performed and these were found to be completely empty. Some smaller pieces of rubber and stick had made their way down to his colon which is the end stage of the gut and is wider than the small intestine further up. Once items get to this stage they are passed out without problem.
The incision in to the stomach was closed using a 2 layer suture pattern which turns the edges of the wound into the inside of the stomach and it is carefully checked to ensure no leaks before closing the muscle and skin layers to his abdomen.
Bruno recovered very quickly from the surgery and was eating food within 2 hours of waking up and was soon completely back to his normal self. When his owners saw the collection of items removed from his stomach they identified an anti-snoring mouth piece, a yellow rubber bone and the red ball, as well as all the pieces of stick.
Bruno’s collection of toys has been restricted to items he can’t chew up and hopefully he won’t get hold of any other items and swallow them !
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