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"Monty" - Cocker Spaniel with Gastrointestinal Obstruction



Dogs are designed to scavenge and gorge. Consequently over the years I have removed a variety of objects from their gastrointestinal tracts which have caused obstructions; everything from ladies underwear (XL) to squash balls!

Usually when presented with a patient who is dull, lethargic and vomiting we often use radiography to aid our diagnosis. Often however the foreign object for which we search is not dense enough to show up on x-rays directly. Instead what we will see is a characteristic build up of gas behind the obstruction - particularly in a young patient.

It is this circumstantial evidence which supports our decision to then perform an exploratory operation in an effort to identify the cause of the gastrointestinal disturbance.


Recently, however, I was presented with Monty who appeared to fall into the category of "obstruction" since he was very miserable, had been vomiting and was only 2 years old. Unfortunately, the radiograph did not demonstrate any build up of gas and I began to wonder whether I was "barking up the wrong tree"!

Careful palpation of "Monty's" abdomen whilst sedated continued to suggest to me that there was an abnormal swelling present. This can however be very subjective as the abdomen contains many structures which can easily be misinterpreted as abnormal. It then becomes a judgement call, "to explore or not to explore" that is the question!

Whilst the weight of evidence was not overwhelming I decided to rely on my "gut" instincts and open "Monty" up and take a look inside. Fortunately, for "Monty" this was the right option for sure enough there was a foreign body causing a considerable amount of bruising and damage which I was able to remove successfully. And the reason why the gas was not building up behind the obstruction was because it was a hollow piece of tubing..........through which the gas escaped!


Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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