Samson is a fluffy white bundle of puppy hyperactivity that characterises the Samoyed breed. He came to Adelaide Animal Hospital late one Sunday evening because he was anything but happy and active. Samson had not eaten since the day before and had not had a proper meal for 2 days. He was very unwell.
Samson tried to look happy when he greeted us but there was no hiding the fact that there was something seriously wrong. His puppy habits gave us a clue and typical of his breed, Samson had a habit of experiencing the world by eating anything new that he could find. His owners had already found some bizarre things in his stools that had passed right through!
Examining his tummy confirmed our suspicions as we thought we could feel a foreign object in his bowel. X-rays confirmed that his bowel was blocked and despite the late hour we needed to operate on him immediately. Time can be important in removing bowel obstructions as delay can lead to further internal damage.
In the operating theatre we opened up Samson's tummy and quickly found the lump that we initially detected. It was a firm mass of chewed up synthetic ropey material that had lodged in the early part of his small bowel. However, the problem was much more serious as this was only part of what he had eaten. The rest of it remained back in the stomach and was connected by some threads of rope. These two parts of the material were playing “tug of war” with each other and causing the bowel in between to be badly bunched up and the connecting threads were cutting into the bowel wall. This part of the small bowel is called the duodenum and about 35cm of it was badly bruised and compromised.
We made two openings into the bowel and one into the stomach to remove the chewed up mass of material and initially thought we would have to resect a large part of his duodenum. This is a very important section of the bowel and is right next to the pancreas which is another important organ of digestion. It is certainly better to keep the duodenum, if at all possible, and avoid the potential complications of a major bowel resection.
With the foreign material removed the bowel immediately began to look better and we opted to repair the openings we had made and give the bowel a chance to heal. The concern in doing this is that if a small section of bowel goes on to breakdown and die off then this will cause leakage of bowel contents and result in life threatening peritonitis. This complication is very difficult to detect unless you look at the bowel directly. Also it is often difficult to predict if a damaged section of bowel will heal or go on to break down.The strategy we adopted to deal with this situation was to quickly complete the first operation and schedule a second operation two days later to check that the bowel was healing satisfactorily.
Samson recovered well from his first operation and 24 hours later was eating and much brighter. After 40 hours he was getting back to his normal happy self and we scheduled the second operation. This went very well and we were able to ascertain that his bowel had recovered nicely and appeared to be healing without complication.
Samson went home the day after his second operation and can look forward to a full and normal life. He is fortunate that we were able to operate early enough to prevent an important part of his bowel being removed. It is not likely however that Samson will have learned any lessons from his misadventure. Samson’s owners will have to remain especially vigilant to prevent him eating silly things in the future!
From Samson's owners:
"Chris and I got married in January this year, and both being raised in homes with pets, we knew that it wouldn’t take long for us to add a new family member to our home! We researched many breeds and we knew that a Samoyed was the perfect breed for us. A big friendly dog, excellent with children, playful, gentle, and of course, adorable! Samson arrived via “air mail”, as we bought him from a breeder in NSW, and when we got him we just couldn’t believe our eyes! Something so gorgeous was now ours! Samson has always had a wonderful personality, always so friendly with people and other animals, and quickly learnt his tricks and of course, where to do his business!
At almost 7 months old, we noticed that Samson hadn’t touched his food in his bowl for an entire day. Samoyeds are pigs, so we thought this was odd, but decided we would wait until the next day before getting too concerned. The following night we had come home, and again his food wasn’t touched. We knew something was wrong. He wasn’t his usual playful self, wasn’t responding to us calling his name, ears and tail were down, and walking looked extremely painful for him. We knew we needed to take him to the vet right away. At 10:30pm we arrived, and Dr Warren was the Vet on night duty. After checking him, Dr Warren wasted no time and told us that he needed surgery immediately because Samson had swallowed something that was blocking his bowel. We left Samson in Dr Warren’s magical hands, and went home nervously sitting by the phone to wait for his call. Dr Warren removed everything and said that he may need a second operation the following day due to his bowel being damaged. We prayed that our Samson would come through and that his bowels would begin to heal – and what a champion, our 7 month old pup came through! We were so relieved to hear that he was going to be okay. After looking at what he swallowed, we could see that it was mainly string from his rope chewing toy - sorry pup, but no more rope toys for you! It has been 1 week since we brought Samson home, and he is already back to his playful and talkative self! We are so thrilled to have him home, and couldn’t have been happier with the care of the nurses and of course, Dr Warren!
Thank you for saving our puppy!
Katerina, Christopher & Samson Fusco"