A ridiculously cute little 8 week old Staffordshire terrier cross, named Peace, came to see us at the Adelaide Animal Hospital one weekend, less than 24 hours after her new family had collected her from the breeder. Since having her home she had started vomiting every 2 – 3 hours. This is extremely unusual.
A physical examination was performed and it was fairly unremarkable except for the concern that there may be a possible foreign object palpable in her abdomen. Peace didn’t however seem overly uncomfortable when feeling it and her temperature and vital signs were all within normal ranges. It was speculated that the mass could be faeces as there were formed stools in her rectum. Furthermore, the owners had also changed her diet to something new.
It should be noted here that dogs and cats, particularly puppies and kittens, are very sensitive to any change in their diet so it is always recommended to introduce any new foods slowly, taking time to transition them by mixing the old with the new, slowly phasing out their old diet.
After discussion with Peace's family, she was sent home for further observations with the instructions to revisit immediately if she continued to vomit or didn’t pass any stools.
The next day, Peace’s family brought her back to the hospital. She had continued to vomit overnight and wasn’t interested in drinking or eating. She was also very flat and sad looking. On physical examination, a golf ball sized mass was still felt in the mid abdomen. Given her deterioration and continued vomiting, a likely foreign body or an intussusception was suspected. Peace was then admitted for a blood test and an ultrasound.
The ultrasound quickly confirmed a foreign body obstruction and exploratory surgery was indicated. A toy mouse with a long fabric tail was found in her small intestine. Luckily the blood supply to the intestines had not been compromised, so no bowel needed to be removed. An incision was made over the object and it was removed before suturing the open small bowel closed. The rest of the abdominal contents were examined, but no other concerns were found.
Peace stayed in hospital overnight whilst she was recovering on intravenous pain relief. By the next day she was a different dog! No longer sitting still, not moving with her head down, she was bouncing around the cage, talking and wanting cuddles! She was also wolfing down her food like she had never eaten before, and keeping it down! She was discharged later that day with some pain relief and a special bland diet as well as strict instructions to keep her as quiet and rested as possible whilst the surgery site was healing.
Two weeks later Peace had made a full recovery and was back to what a normal puppy should be – full of beans and getting into mischief!
It is recommended that whenever you first get a new puppy or kitten, a vet check is performed to ensure that they are as healthy as possible and up to date with all their preventative health care. A good breeder should give a puppy or kitten their first health check with a veterinarian, a vaccination and worming. It is also important not to wait too long to seek veterinary assistance if you feel that your baby animal is unwell, as they can deteriorate so rapidly.
Message from Peace’s family:
"I'm so glad we were sent to the Stirling Animal Hosptial with Peace. Peace was very unwell and we had only had her for 3 days! I didnt understand what was going on. Straight away vet Piri Cutts was checking over Peace and explained every step that she would take to help recognise what was going on with Peace's tummy. Having to leave Peace at the Animal Hospital, I received numerous calls updating me on her progress and also when she came out of surgery on how she was going. It was also great because we could visit Peace each night too while she recovered. The staff were so fantastic, kind and really loving towards Peace, it really made me feel comfortable leaving her there and visiting many times again for check ups! Peace even gets excited when she walks into the vet now! Thankyou to the Stirling Animal Hospital for the great care you took of our puppy Peace!!!"