Case study: Foreign Body Gastrotomy

What happened?

Inca was brought into the surgery by her owners as she had been vomiting on and off, for a few days, mainly grass. Inca’s owners noticed that she was panting a lot, and with her it was usually a sign that she was going to be sick. In the practice she was bright, alert and responsive, with pink gums and a normal temperature. Importantly she was not dehydrated from vomiting.

On physical examination of Inca’s abdomen, nothing remarkable was found and her owners were advised to give a bland diet and small, frequent meals – which is normal for vomiting cases. She was also given an anti-sickness medication.

After two days she continued to have ongoing vomiting of hair and bits of plastic, she was also off her food. Inca was admitted for blood tests and x-rays of the abdomen. On x-ray, the radiographs showed abnormal objects in the abdomen.

Action taken:

Inca was given a gastrostomy (her stomach opened) and a large amount of grass, hair, cloth, ‘webbing type’ straps and numerous pieces of hard leather (possibly a football) were removed from her. The rest of Inca’s intestines were also checked for any obstructions, but none found.


Two days after the surgery, Inca returned for a post op check. There had been no further vomiting, she was eating and had passed normal faeces. The operation wound looked good and Inca was comfortable and excited!

Owners comments:

Being a typical labrador, she will eat something and then be sick afterwards and nothing more comes of it. Because this time she was off for a few days we took to her to the practice and they gave her something to help settle the stomach.

When she was off her food, I thought to myself, this is not good. Our daughter is a nurse at Monument vets, so I had no worries at all as Inca was in the best hands.

She is nearly 9 and I’m staggered that she hasn’t been in trouble before now!, She is also a bit of a Houdini and used to escape the garden the night before the bins were collected the following day. She would scavenge the neighbours bins until they could find her!

Since the operation she’s doing absolutely fine, she felt a bit sorry for herself to begin with and made sure we knew about it, but she bounced back really quickly. We are keeping a close eye on her now and not leaving her unattended in rooms where she may be able to help get hold of anything.

Inca’s owner finished by saying “The vets were fantastic and Inca was well looked after.”.

Additional notes:

Some dogs like to scavenge and it is a behaviour that is difficult to control, however whereas some foreign bodies will pass through the digestive system, others can cause a problem with obstructions. It is not unusual for vets to be presented with dogs which have eaten food stuffs that cause problems, such as corn cobs and even large bones. Non-edible items often include fabric (such as socks) and dog toys.

If you have any concerns that your dog may have eaten a foreign body, please call the surgery for further advice.

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