Mila, a two year old Doberman Pinscher presented to the Animal Care Center with a four day history of vomiting and not eating. She had gone to her regular vet the day before where bloodwork revealed no abnormalities and she was treated for a GI bug with fluids and an anti-nausea injection. Unfortunately, Mila did not respond to the treatment and continued to vomit throughout the night. At Animal Care Center there were no abnormalities found on initial physical exam besides some mild dehydration. Abdominal x-rays were taken and revealed that her stomach was extremely distended with fluid, measuring about 2-3 times larger than a normal dog’s stomach. Something was blocking the outflow of the stomach, keeping it from emptying appropriately, but the exact cause could not be visualized. A few possible things that could do this would be ingestion of foreign material (toys, rocks, clothing, etc), tumors, or large folds in the stomach lining blocking the outflow. Also, some gastrointestinal or systemic illnesses may cause ileus, slowing muscle contractions in the GI tract, delaying stomach and intestinal emptying. Due to her age and history of good health, foreign body ingestion was suspected and Mila was taken to surgery for an abdominal explore.
During the exploratory a loop of small intestine was located that was distended and purple with a round, firm, palpable object in it. We cut over the offending object and removed a plastic squeaker from a dog chew toy. Mila recovered very well from the surgery.
Luckily Mila had vigilant owners who recognized something was very wrong with her and took immediate action. When objects get lodged in the intestines they compress the intestinal walls, clamping off the blood supply. Without adequate blood supply, that area of intestine will eventually become necrotic (die off) and rupture, causing widespread infection and a very critical situation. If the necrotic section is found before it ruptures, the section can be removed, but the dog may suffer from long term GI issues. While Mila’s intestines did show signs of distress, purple discoloration and distension, they were not yet necrotic so no sections had to be removed. Once the culprit was removed she was able to make a full recovery!