April 2011 - Triumph: Tales of Life | Care First Blog

Harley had always been a happy-go-lucky Boxer, bouncing around rambunctiously and playing with his toys, until one January day when one toy got the best of him!

One cold January day, Harley went from happy and bouncing to sad looking and sick. His owner brought him in to Care First Animal Hospital at Grace Park in Morrisville, and reported that he had been vomiting and refusing to eat for a few days. As anyone with Boxers knows, refusing food is not one of their personality traits, so Harley’s owners knew to bring him in to be examined.

Dr. Erik Strunck remembers that even though Harley didn’t seem painful, he was mildly dehydrated, and with a deep-chested dog like a Boxer, it is difficult to get a great feeling of the stomach. So, he recommended radiographs, which revealed thickened areas in the stomach and gas in the intestines, which meant that while there was no obvious foreign body visible, it wasn’t something doctors could rule out. Therefore, treatment began with pushing intravenous fluids to get everything in the intestinal tract moving along as well as a hospital stay overnight for Harley with some acid reducing and pain reducing medications.

In the morning, it was like Harley was back to his old self! He was able to eat and keep down a little food, and while rechecking x-rays did not show that the gas had moved too much, the other positive signs brought doctors and Harley’s owners to the decision of discharging Harley from the hospital to see if he continued improving at home.

However, once he got home, Harley was no longer interested in food and began vomiting again. When he came back to Care First Animal Hospital at Grace Park, the options were to either do a Barium Study, which consists of consuming a solution (Barium) that shows up white on radiographs, and taking several x-rays at different time intervals to see how it travels through the intestinal tract – showing doctors where a blockage is if it stops moving, or proceeding with an Exploratory Surgery, in search of a foreign body (which could be causing a blockage).

Harley’s family decided to just go with the surgery, and it’s a good thing they did! In an Exploratory Surgery, doctors explore the entire abdomen of the animal, examining the organs and following the path of the entire intestinal tract to identify what may be causing the problem. As Dr. Strunck moved from examining the stomach and the beginning of the duodenum, he came upon unhealthy tissue. He clamped above and below the unhealthy tissue and made an incision to find out the cause, and it was A SQUEAKER! Harley had done his own de-squeakification surgery on a toy and consumed its plastic squeaker! This plastic was keeping Harley’s food from passing through his system.

After removing the culprit and completing surgery, Harley was treated overnight with IV fluids, antibiotics, and pain medication. Within a day, Harley was discharged from the hospital once again, this time for good, with instructions to stay quiet for about a week to heal, and to watch out for those tricky toys that bite back!

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