At home after the incident the owner reported Brian was very anxious. He was triaged by a veterinary nurse as soon as he arrived at the clinic. Whilst he appeared bright and happy in the consult room he was showing signs of feeling nauseous such as hyper salivating and trying to eat grass when outside. The nurse checked his mouth thoroughly to make sure the stick was not lodged and blocking his airway. Nothing could be seen and there were no signs of injury in his mouth. His abdomen was however very tense. After his initial assessment he was admitted for a sedation to x-ray his abdomen. As the stick is wooden it would not show on x-ray however it may have been possible to see a build up of gas if there was an obstruction.
On x-ray we could see that Brian’s stomach was dilated and full of gas. There was also gas in the oesophagus and some thickening of the intestinal walls. The x-rays were compatible with signs of foreign body ingestion. The vets decided Brian should undergo surgery to remove the lolly stick whilst his condition was stable. If left to see if he passed it himself there would be risk of injury to the guts and his condition could potentially deteriorate making a general anaesthetic riskier.
Brian underwent a gastrotomy the same day. A gastrotomy involves surgically opening the stomach to allow visualisation of the stomach interior. During the surgery the vets removed grass, fragments of sticks and the chewed remains of the lolly stick from Brian’s stomach. His stomach was flushed with sterile saline before being closed again. Brian recovered well from the general anaesthetic with no complications and was soon eating and acting more like himself again. As he recovered so well Brian was able to go home that evening with pain relief and a buster collar.
On Sunday morning Brian came back in to see the Vet for a check up after his procedure. The owner reported he had been unsettled overnight but was mainly due to the buster collar he had to wear. In the morning he was much brighter. His vital signs were all perfect. On palpation of his abdomen Brian showed a little discomfort at the top end of his wound however was much more comfortable than the previous day. The plan was to continue with his care at home. Continue with pain relief and small but frequent meals. Brian had been of a diet of a very bland and soft food provided by us but now his normal diet could gradually be mixed in and introduced over the following few days. Brian had also been on strict rest overnight and on the Sunday however he could now start gentle lead exercise.
Three days after the surgery Brian came back to see the Vet as there was a little bruising around the wound and he seemed quieter in the morning. By the time he had reached the vets he had perked up considerably. On examination there was some slight swelling but overall the wound was healing very well and Brian seemed very comfortable. However the next day he was quiet again and vomited three times in the morning. The Vet admitted Brian for the day for observation. Whilst with us he was very bright but vomited once more. He was administered intravenous fluids and omeprazole to help settle his stomach. By the afternoon he was happier and eating well. He had no more episodes of vomiting. He went home that evening with more prescription food and omeprazole. Over the next few days he improved until Saturday evening when he vomited again and went off his food. The owner kept a close eye on him at home and by Monday he had improved again.
Over the next couple of weeks Brian was gradually weened off of the prescription diet back to his normal food. He had no more vomiting but some episodes of diarrhoea which were likely related to the stress of surgery on the gastro-intestinal tract and the change in diet during recovery. The wound healed well and Brian was soon back to his normal self.