This is Monty, an 18 month old Boxer x Bull Arab who has had a very eventful month in July. Monty's owners brought him to see us when they noticed he was off his food, quieter than normal and had vomited. It turns out they were very right to be concerned!
Monty's owners had had a pet with a foreign body obstruction in the past. This is when a pet eats something they shouldn't have and it causes an obstruction in their intestines. Pets have been known to eat all sorts of objects including socks, fruit pits, strings and small toy parts. Having experienced it before, Monty's owners were concerned that it could happen again, especially as Monty is fond of chewing all sorts of things. In addition, Monty is covered by pet insurance so they felt it was definitely worth being safe rather than sorry.
Monty was admitted into hospital by Dr Raj who took some x-rays of his abdomen to check if there was any evidence of a blockage. The x-rays showed some gas loops, meaning that the intestines were bloated with gas. Dr Raj could not see any obvious foreign object but was still concerned about a blockage. Shortly after the x-rays were taken, Monty passed some bad diarrhoea. The vet and nurse team hoped that this meant that the gas loops were clearing and Monty only had an upset tummy. In order to be sure, the x-rays were repeated. Unfortunately Monty's intestines still looked obstructed so Dr Raj and Monty's owners decided that an exploratory laparotomy was the best option for him. An exploratory laparotomy is a type of surgery to explore the patient's abdomen to look for problems such as a foreign object or other obstruction.
Nurse Dee assisted Dr Raj during the surgery by managing Monty's anaesthetic and monitoring his vital signs. She also administered antibiotics and pain relieving medications as directed by Dr Raj. During surgery Dr Raj discovered that Monty did not have a foreign body obstruction, but a condition known as Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV). This is a common emergency in large breed, deep chested dogs such as Boxers, Greyhounds and Pointers. The stomach of the dog twists internally, causing an obstruction. Patients suffering from GDV often present with abdominal bloating and emergency intervention is needed to save their lives. Because Monty's owners were very quick to notice that he was unwell, he had not become severely bloated and therefore was not diagnosed as having GDV right away. Dr Raj untwisted his stomach and performed a gastropexy. This a minor surgical procedure where the stomach is sutured to the abdomen wall to prevent it from ever twisting again in the future.
Monty recovered well from his surgery and spent the next few days in hospital at the emergency centre for observation. So far everything is going really well for Monty, thanks to his owners' quick action and the reassurance of having pet insurance.