Eros and his clingfilm feast.
“Eros” a beautiful but very sad 6 year old Samoyed was brought to the clinic by his concerned owners because he was lethargic & had been vomiting for 24 hours. Vet Caris examined him and found that he had a very sore tummy and xrays of his abdomen indicated a possible obstruction in his small intestines.
Dogs are naturally curious and often opportunistic feeders! They may sample all sorts of things from leftovers in the rubbish to toys, rocks, clothes and sticks. Some of these things may pass uneventfully, but sometimes these objects can’t be digested or are too big and they can get stuck in the digestive tract, causing an obstruction.
Depending on the type of obstruction, where it is, and how long the object has been in the digestive tract, this condition can be life threatening. In some cases the object can cut off the blood supply to the particular section of the digestive tract, causing it to become necrotic and die.
In Eros’ case, from the radiographic evidence and how unwell he was, we were worried that this was already happening, so he was stabilised and promptly taken into surgery.
We subsequently found that a large portion of his intestines was bunched up from a linear object - in this case, it was from long bits of clingfilm and plastic from a meat packet that he had cheerfully eaten a few days ago.
Unfortunately, the portion of intestines that was bunched up had multiple devitalised areas that were starting to break down and die. The decision was made to perform an enterectomy. This means removal of the devitalised segment of intestine and then joining the two remaining healthy ends of intestine together. This procedure is also known as an “end to end anastamosis”. We had to resect about 50 cm of Eros’ jejunum, a part of his small intestine.
Removing such a large section of the intestine may lead to a disease called short bowel syndrome, where there’s not enough bowel to allow thorough digestion and absorption of food, leading to diarrhoea. Fortunately for Eros, after a few days in hospital, he went home on medication and a special digestible diet. He has made a full recovery and is back to his normal happy self.
In general, the outcome for animals with a foreign body obstruction is good if it is recognised and treated quickly. Common signs to look out for include vomiting, retching, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain (growling or crying when picked up), or changes in the stool (ie: constipation, diarrhea or even lack of defecation).
Though we will not be able to control everything a dog or cat gets into, doing our best to limit access to tempting items is the key to prevention. Avoid feeding bones and scraps, making sure bins are secure and choosing the right sized and safe toys for your dogs are some of the many ways that you can keep your pet safe.