My pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have!

Tango’s Story

Majority of the time when a sick patient visits one of our Veterinarians they are able to establish a diagnosis and treatment plan quickly. Well not for Tango the black Labrador, she has a more interesting story to share!

Tango first came to see Dr Kristy Gilbert with a high temperature and mild changes in her liver function. Kristy prescribed antibiotics and bland diet for a week and Tango quickly became progressively better therefore no further treatment was required.

But then the plot thickens! Two months later Tango visited us again for a high temperature, sore abdomen and lethargy. This was very unlike the normal Tango, who is usually bursting with energy, which encouraged a need for further investigation.

Kristy decided to run a few blood tests to check Tango’s overall health along with a blood smear which allows her to examine Tango’s cells in more depth. Her white blood cells looked abnormal and this indicated that there might be an infection beneath the surface somewhere.

Later, Kristy suggested an abdominal ultrasound for the next available day. In the mean time Tango was admitted to hospital for intravenous fluid therapy, an antibiotic injection and monitoring to see whether her symptoms progressed into vomiting or diarrhoea.

The next day Kristy conducted an abdominal ultrasound, which revealed some abnormalities in Tango’s spleen. The spleen is responsible for removing nasty cells from the body and although it is very important in the body a dog can actually live without it. Under close inspection Kristy found a suspicious 2-3mm nodule. Kristy explained to Tango’s owners that the best option would be to remove the spleen and perform a biopsy to ensure that the suspicious nodule is not cancerous.

The next day Dr Quentin Brown performed a Splenectomy, which involves the removal of Tango’s entire spleen under a general anaesthetic. Once the spleen was removed the plan was to biopsy the sinister nodule and send it away for histopathology.

What happened next was incredible. As Dr Quentin explored the strange looking nodule with a tiny bit of dissection, out popped a TOOTHPICK! She must have ingested a toothpick that burrowed its way through her intestines and into her spleen. Tango’s owners were extremely relieved, as much as this was a huge ordeal for Tango it was better than finding out she had a cancerous lump.

Tango’s parents later revealed they had a 70’s party a few months ago and they had used toothpicks for some of the finger food! Miss Tango had obviously decided to try some!!

Now Tango only visits us for her Arthritis problems and vaccinations! She is doing well and won’t be going near any more toothpicks!

This is an important message to pet owners to also be careful when feeding dog bones. Remember if you do feed your pet bones, never feed them cooked and to always consider the possibility that any bone can splinter and cause internal damage!

Hairballs in Cats

Almost everyone who owns a cat has experienced a hairball at some point. Hairballs are especially common in cats with long hair, like Maine Coons or Persians. Cats groom themselves to keep clean and get rid of excess hair and become extremely good at it! Unfortunately with all that grooming they are bound to ingest some hair, and if excessive they can form hairballs.

Symptoms of hairballs

  • Gagging
  • Retching
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy

Note that a hacking cough is often thought to be caused by hairballs. This is a myth and can be a serious sign of allergies or lung issues such as asthma! If your cat coughs, please seek advice from your vet.

Treatment and Prevention

  • Groom your cat regularly to help remove loose hair. The more you remove the less your cat will have to!
  • Hairball specific diets can assist with hairball control. They contain higher levels of fibre to help hairballs pass and with added omega-3 oils can improve the quality of your cat’s coat to prevent future hairballs.
  • Try a cat laxative that will help a hairball pass through the digestive tract. You can buy these over the counter at your veterinarian.
  • Sometimes when cats develop hairballs it is because they are over grooming. Make sure your flea prevention is up to date! Cats that excessively groom themselves may be suffering from stress or anxiety. It’s important that you address this and discuss it with your veterinarian. They may help you identify what triggers the stress or anxiety in your cat and assist with strategies that can reduce it.

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