Meet Wallace. He is a happy little six-year-old West Highland White Terrier and he was presented to us because he was vomiting but still pretty happy in himself. This vomit was more like regurgitation, he was hungry but brought back any food or water pretty much immediately he swallowed it. This usually means there is a foreign body somewhere in the upper part of the digestive tract. In the early stages these dogs are still quite bright (unlike in a severe infection, for example).
Radiographs showed there was something stuck just where his oesophagus enters the stomach. There is a natural constriction in the oesophagus here so it is easy for objects to get trapped in this spot. The problem we have is that anything stick here is difficult to get at. The oesophagus is a very unforgiving organ to do surgery on, it heals very badly and incising into it can often end up with complications which can be fatal.
We tried to see and remove the object with our endoscope. We have a camera and some grasping forceps, we pass these through his mouth and down to where the blockage is, it looked like a piece of bone but it was too firmly wedged for us to remove without causing excessive damage.
The next option was surgery, we operated on Wallace, opening up his stomach and trying to pull the bone through into the stomach from the inside. It was still firmly wedged, we eventually managed to get it out with one vet pulling from the stomach and another pushing it using a stomach tube passed through Wallace’s mouth.
Removal left a lot of damage to the oesophagus, we can see this with our endoscope so aftercare for Wallace was critical. He was fed and watered entirely intravenously for 2 days to give the damaged area a chance to recover. Pain relief is also vital and we usually use an anti-acid drug to stop stomach acid being refluxed into the oesophagus and causing more irritation to an already damaged area. Wallace has since made a full recovery.
Bones and Dogs
Every year we see a steady stream of problems caused by dogs eating bones, they include constipation, stomach upsets, vomiting, gut blockages, broken teeth etc. Many can be sorted out but they can be fatal problems too.
Dogs love chewing on bones but they don’t need them. there are many safer chews out there. They also don’t do much to keep teeth clean. You should also remember that although ‘wild dogs’ eat bones, they are much bigger which means the chances of a piece of bone getting stuck are much reduced, they also chew their food differently from domestic dogs.
If you feel you have to give your dog bones then get the right sort, from a pet shop, don’t give bits of bone left over from cooking.
Anyway, we wish all our clients and pets a happy and successful 2018 from all of us at Withy Grove Vets!