Barbecue warning from vets after dog needs surgery to remove kebab stick - Veterinary Practice
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Barbecue warning from vets after dog needs surgery to remove kebab stick

Increase in outdoor gatherings as lockdown restriction ease and sunnier weather appears could lead to a worrying spike in cases

Vets are warning of the dangers to animals of a post-lockdown barbecue boom after a dog escaped death having swallowed a kebab stick.

Remarkably, the four-inch stick avoided all German Shepherd Bear’s major organs despite being in her for two months.

It passed all the way through to her rear leg and she was saved thanks to surgery at Abington Park Veterinary Surgery in Northampton, part of IVC Evidensia‘s network of referral practices across the UK.

Although the length of time was exceptional, the team at Abington Park say they see worrying numbers of pets who have swallowed sticks after snatching food at garden barbecues.

And they fear an increase in outdoor gatherings in the coming months as lockdown restriction ease and sunnier weather appears could lead to a worrying spike in cases.

“We frequently see swallowed kebab sticks,” said vet Riccardo Minelli. “It is normally stuck in the mouth, the oesophagus or the stomach. But if they do get to the intestine, the animal tends to be unwell quickly, which wasn’t what happened in this case which was very unusual.

“With more people at home at the moment and perhaps having barbecues, there is definitely an increased risk. We’d ask people to be especially vigilant if they have dogs around and to contact their vet right away if they see their pet get hold of one of these things.”

Owner Richard Davidson was aware of the dangers after the family’s other dog, Labrador Keats, needed surgery having gulped down a corn on the cob on a stick from the kitchen a couple of years back.

But they reckon hungry Bear, then 10-months-old, must have snatched the stick unnoticed from a back garden barbie.

“Dogs are so crafty when it comes to food and they are just so quick,” said Richard, who lives near Kettering. “Because we already have a dog that will eat anything, we always try to be as careful as possible.

“In this instance we didn’t even see her take it and don’t know if she sneaked it off someone’s plate. So, we didn’t realise that there was any problem at all.

“Months later she started to limp and then that gradually got worse. It became so bad that she wouldn’t walk on her back leg and we took her to the vets.”

Richard initially took Bear to their own surgery, Vets4Pets, where an X-ray found no indication of a fracture but did suspect an obstruction. Realising she needed specific attention, she was referred to the expertise of the team at Abington Park.

“As soon as Bear came in and I did an ultrasound scan I could see the foreign body,” said Riccardo. “Although the leg was massively swollen, I had still been expecting something like a grass seed, not anything as big as the kebab stick.

“There was no wound or entry point, so it was hard to imagine how something like that had got in.

“The imaging showed that it was very close to large abdominal vessels and the femoral artery. I realised that surgery was required as there was a risk of haemorrhage if we tried to remove it non-invasively.”

Dr Jamie McClement headed the team who carried out the delicate operation to remove the kebab stick.

Owner Richard was stunned at the news of the find, but delighted Bear came through the surgery well.

“We would never have thought that a kebab stick could possibly have been the cause of her limp,” said Richard. “She seemed to be eating fine and there were no other signs of anything wrong.

“It was such a surprise when we were told what was responsible and we are just grateful that it missed vital organs and passed through the intestine without causing serious damage.

“We know it could have been fatal and we were very lucky. We’ve become even more careful and even have doggie guards at the kitchen door now to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“Obviously we didn’t see it happen this time, but if you do see your dog get hold of one of these things, get them to a vet just as quickly as possible.”

Riccardo added: “The sooner they get the animal to us the better as we can usually retrieve it without surgery.”

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