Aliens, Balls, and Bands! Oh My!

What could these three things possibly have in common? They have all been removed from the stomach and intestine of our lovely 4-legged friends. Each year we remove a plethora of fascinating objects from dogs, cats and ferrets. From fish hooks and corn cobs, socks and underwear to toys and rocks. Animals seem to find a great interest in chewing things that don’t belong to them.

Sometimes we are lucky enough to catch an animal quickly enough to induce vomiting however these cases must be chosen carefully, this is never indicated for sharp or jagged items that can cause more damage coming up than down.

This young dog had been seen to eat a soft rubber ball just 30 minutes prior so we discussed the options with the owner inducing vomiting vs. surgery vs. endoscopy vs. waiting to see if it could pass. Luckily this time we chose well and with a simple injection the problem was solved. Unfortunately, 2 days later he decided to eat the ball again (hint: always discard of ingested toys).

Chloe, a 2 year old Calico is owned by one of our team members. Her family had known that she had a tendency to chew on rubber hair ties but didn’t think she was actually eating them until she stopped eating her food, started vomiting and became distant and lethargic. An X-ray confirmed the presence of the foreign material which did indeed turn out to be rubber hair ties. We removed 15 ties from her stomach.

One year later she was back in surgery after ingesting yet another hair tie.

This 2 year old dog managed to eat what appears to be a very passable foreign object.

When we look at each case and decide whether or not surgery is the best option we take into consideration a number of factors including: level of pain, fever, signs of infection, X-ray appearance of the bowel, and finally (when we’re lucky), the appearance and size of the foreign body. In this little dog’ case the only indications we had that we were in trouble were that her pain wasn’t improving after intravenous fluids and pain medication and her fever was worsening. We fortunately made the decision to take her to surgery.

We were lucky enough to have a videographer capture the surgery (warning, the footage is graphic at times)was removed. The reason it wasn’t passing is that the parachute was stuck in the stomach attached by a string. We call this a “linear foreign body” which may be the most dangerous type of foreign body because as the intestine attempts to pass the object through the bowel, it bunches or telescopes along the string. The string then tightens and tears through the wall of the intestine causing perforations and leakage of bowel contents into the abdomen. This surgery required us to cut into her stomach and bowel to remove the parachute and alien, as well as to remove a 3 inch piece of her intestine that was irreparable.

The owners were doubly pleased because we also found 3 felt pads that went missing 6 months ago. Today she is recovering nicely and getting back to her mischievous self.

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