Bogey*, a big, funny golden retriever, wasn’t quite acting like herself. She was sleeping for most of the day and didn’t have her usual enthusiastic appetite. When she wouldn’t chase her tennis ball, her owners knew something was wrong. They took her to the vet, who performed an abdominal x-ray on Bogey and saw the problem immediately: a round, spherical object stuck in the dog’s stomach. The vet sent Bogie and her family to BEVS right away to get it out.
At BEVS, we put Bogey under a general anesthesia to make her more comfortable. To remove the object, we used an endoscope, which is a long, flexible tube with a camera and light on one end that allows us to see inside an animal’s stomach, throat, colon, and bladder. We use it to perform biopsies, insert feeding tubes, or in this case, remove foreign objects without surgery. The scope revealed that Bogey had eaten a golf ball. Not only was it important to remove the ball before it blocked her intestine, but golf balls also contain lead and zinc that are toxic to dogs. Using the scope to see, we eased a Playtex baby bottle insert into the stomach and guided the bottle insert over the golf ball. Once the ball was securely within the bag, we carefully removed it. The whole procedure took less than 30 minutes and Bogey was on her way to feeling a whole lot better.
We’ve seen both puppies and adult dogs swallow a lot of interesting things over the years, from fish hooks and sewing needles to coins, bottle caps, bones, squeekers from toys, corn cobs, and more. Socks are especially popular. If your dog seems to have lost his appetite, has vomiting or diarrhea, or is acting particularly lethargic, he may have swallowed something when you weren’t looking. Get your pup to your veterinarian as soon as possible, where he or she can determine if the symptoms are being caused by an inappropriate snack or something else.
* Name has been changed to protect the dog’s privacy
written by Dr. Bryan Harnett, DACVIM