Curious canines have unintentionally swallowed everything from Gorilla Glue to coat hangers, and in the case of a 9-year-old hunting canine named Cash, it was a wooden skewer from a Caprese salad bowl.
When Cash's owner Aaron Johnson realized the dog was out of sorts (lethargic, hurting on the left side of his belly), he took him to the veterinarian to see just what was wrong.
Cash was brought to the VCA Chanhassen Animal Hospital in Chanhassen, Minn., where, according to a Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners press release, the dog's "left kidney was enlarged and had fluid build-up." The release explains that those symptoms can be a signal of a kidney blockage or tumor.
After undergoing abdominal ultrasounds, CT scans, and X-rays, vets finally discovered what was causing Cash's painful problem: a dangerous wooden skewer. The release says that the sharp skewer had punctured Cash’s intestine, blocked the dog's left kidney, and poked out of his chest wall. The skewer did not penetrate the skin, which explains why the owner and veterinarians didn't realize the cause of Cash's symptoms right away.
After the skewer was identified, BluePearl vets Dr. Jeff Yu and Dr. Jenifer Myers performed surgery. The doctors made an incision in Cash’s abdomen and removed the skewer from the dog's intestine. They also drained fluids from between the chest wall and skin area.
The procedure went smoothly, says Yu. "Cash was anesthetized during the surgery and given pain medication afterward. He recovered well and was eating the day after surgery—a great sign," Yu tells petMD. And while Cash is short a kidney (dogs, like humans, can survive with just one), he is expected to make a full recovery. "Cash has a great prognosis and I wouldn’t expect any lasting complications," Meyers says.
This scary incident serves as a reminder to fellow pet parents.
"The skewer piercing the intestine could have led to infection and serious, even fatal, consequences," Yu says. "Be really careful with any food items that have sharp objects, such as toothpicks, even if the food is sitting on the kitchen table."
While it's not always easy to know whether or not your dog has ingested a foreign object, Myers says there are signs pet owners should look for. "Dogs who have swallowed a foreign body (anything that’s not food) often suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite," she says. "The best thing to do when you see these signs in your pet is to go to a veterinarian—either your primary care veterinarian or (especially if it’s after-hours) an emergency veterinarian. If you see your dog or cat eating something that could be harmful, call the veterinarian."
This story, thankfully, had a happy ending for all those involved. "Cash is a friendly lovable dog and it’s clear that his owner Aaron Johnson has a strong, loving bond with him," Myers says. "His dedication to Cash is evident."
Image courtesy of Aaron Johnson