Foreign Body Ingestion in Dogs: Levi Eats 200 Gauze Squares

Labrador Retrievers are notorious for eating things that have no business making it down the gullet.

According to PetFirst insurance, Labrador Retrievers are the top breed likely to get in health trouble by swallowing inedible things. Is that because they are such a popular breed that it influences the statistics? Maybe but it seems there is more to it than sheer numbers.

Source: Five Dog Breeds Most Likely to Have Foreign Body Ingestion. (This article is a bit old, but I doubt much has changed.)

Levi did have a history of eating socks–this time, he decided to expand his repertoire.

Dog Foreign Body Ingestion: Levi Eats 200 Gauze Squares

Either way, Levi is a Labrador Retriever, and he ended up in a veterinary hospital because he ate 200 gauze squares.

A few of those could make their way through Levi’s digestive tract without causing harm. Maybe. Because of its texture, gauze likes to clump up and get caught up in the intestines, a problem that requires surgery. The likelihood of two hundred of them not causing an intestinal disaster is probably a zero.

Getting them to come out as soon as possible the same way they came in was the best strategy.

Levi was at the vet’s to try and get him safely vomit them all up.

Foreign body ingestion might sound like not much of a big deal–and might not be if your dog is fortunate. It can, however, end up in a medical disaster. It all depends on what your dog ate, how long it has been in the system, where it got stuck, the degree of obstruction it caused, and whether it can cause poisoning on top of all that.

The worst case scenario is when it causes damage to the integrity of the intestinal tract tissue and spillage of its content–peritonitis. That is a life-threatening situation.

Diagnosing intestinal foreign bodies is not always straightforward.

Initial symptoms can be too generic – vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

Ella, a Cavalier Springer Spaniel, [accidentally] ingested a piece of string. She kept being sick but went undiagnosed for two weeks. Her surgeon eventually had to remove about 75 percent of Ella’s intestine, but it still failed to save her life. Ella was vomiting, had diarrhea, and didn’t want to eat, but for two weeks, nobody was any wiser.

Mort, an Australian Kelpie mix, also didn’t get diagnosed until he developed peritonitis. He did survive his brush with death but suffered greatly.

Levi was lucky because his mom knew what he’s done when she found a box of gauze empty.

She acted quickly before Levi could get sick at all. He bounced into the vet clinic, happy and wagging. He wasn’t that impressed when he got 3% hydrogen peroxide instead of a treat or vomiting a pile of gauze.

Levi’s veterinarian repeated the process three times until only 16 gauze pads, and stomach fluid came out of his belly.

If Levi didn’t throw up the gauze, he might have needed endoscopy or surgery at the very least.

If Levi’s mom didn’t realize what he’s done, he could have been in trouble.

All is well that ends well, but foreign body ingestion can be anything from a big headache to a life-threatening emergency.

Read Levi’s full story here.

Related articles:
Mort’s Bowel Obstruction and Peritonitis

Categories: ConditionsDiagnosesDog health advocacyForeign bodies

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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