Puppies are known to get into trouble.
That may be an understatement. They can mess on your carpet, chew on your furniture, and bark in the middle of the night. It’s a good thing they are cute and most grow out of that stage or else many people would avoid getting one.
Baxter is a 9 month old ShihTzu. He is normally very rambunctious and playful. He presented to Bemidji Veterinary Hospital on Thursday, April 24th. His owner was concerned because he was not eating; not even his treats. He was lethargic, not playing as usual, and was vomiting. The client mentioned he had chewed up a rubber ball on Monday.
On physical exam, he appeared normal, yet quiet for a puppy. Due to his history of chewing on things, there was concern of an obstruction. Radiographs were taken of his abdomen. No obvious abnormalities were observed. Barium was administered orally and the pet was admitted for observation. Blood work was done to rule out pancreatitis. An anti-nausea medication was given to give him relief from vomiting.
Barium is a contrast medium that shows up well on radiographs. It is administered orally and passes through the intestines highlighting them allowing us to see more detail. Taking multiple radiographs over a certain period of time can tell us if the intestines are moving properly and the material is passing through correctly. When it comes in contact with foreign material such as fabric, it becomes trapped and only moves if the material moves.
At the end of the day another radiograph was taken which revealed the barium traveling through well. The patient was sent home for the evening with instructions to not feed him and return in the morning for a follow-up radiograph.
Baxter presented the on Friday morning a little more energetic. His owner reported that he had passed a bowel movement with some cotton stuffing in it and had not vomited overnight. The follow-up radiograph revealed that the barium had passed through most of the intestines and was awaiting exit in the colon (the last section of intestine). He went home with instructions to offer food and monitor for more vomiting.
Baxter and his family were pretty lucky to avoid a more serious problem. Not all foreign material passes; it can get stuck in either the stomach or intestines and cause an obstruction, which requires surgical repair. Common symptoms include vomiting, no appetite, not passing stools, and very uncomfortable in the abdomen. Young puppies like Baxter need to chew on things. Supplying them with proper, sturdy toys that won’t break into pieces or come apart can avoid these situations. Having pet insurance or a pet health savings account can help ease the financial burden when these unexpected events occur.
As of today, Baxter is doing well. He has had a few incidents of eating inappropriate things since his visit, but luckily everything has come back up or passed without complication. His owner watches him very carefully, but puppies will get into things given the opportunity.
If you believe your pet may have eaten something he/she shouldn’t, or if your pet is vomiting or straining to pass a bowel movement, call us at 218-751-2753.