A few months after we moved to Australia, we had an emergency. It was a lovely day so I bought the dogs a marrow bone each. They have had marrow bones in the past and have enjoyed them immensely. They chewed on them for ages and had a great time as usual then came inside and napped. Dinner time came around and Hamish was not interested, which is not unusual as unlike Sophie and our old lab Rusty, he is not really a food motivated dog.
Later that evening I tried to coax him to eat again, he ate a few bites and then threw it up which got me worrying. I kept a close eye on him and a few hours later we both went to sleep in my bed (a big treat for him). At around 2am Hamish started crying. I quickly got dressed, bundled him into the car and rushed to the 24 hour vet.
Now at this point my main concern was bloat. Large breed dogs and dogs with deep chests are very prone to bloat which is when the dog’s stomach fills with air and swells, the dangerous part though is that the stomach can then twist or torsion and cut off circulation which, unless caught on time, results in death. Hamish has had his stomach tacked which is a surgery to attach the stomach to his rib cage so if he does bloat, I have more time to get him into emergency surgery before he torsions.
We arrived at the vet and I voiced my concerns about bloat. They took Hamish out the back and had a feel of his stomach then told me he was not bloated. They said that his hips were not great and he was probably just in pain. They gave me some anti-inflammatories and pain killers and sent me home. I stayed home from work that day and kept a close eye on Hamish, he was still not eating and was still throwing up. I called the vet and they said that was probably because of the medication. Then he started crying again and I knew that SOMETHING was wrong and it wasn’t his hips. I took him back to the vet and they said they could take x-rays to see what was going on. I went into the x-ray room to keep Hamish calm then we waited for the results.
Finally the vet came into the room and said he has a tennis ball sized obstruction at the entrance to his stomach. First they tried to pull it out the way it came but it was not budging so they had to go in surgically. They did the surgery and pulled out the knuckle of a marrow bone. The next morning they called to say the surgery went well and Hamish was in recovery and doing well. However, this particular 24 hour vet is not 24 hours on weekdays so there was not going to be anyone there during the day to oversee his recovery which I was not ok with. I went and picked him up and took him to his regular vet for monitoring that day and was able to pick him up that evening and take him home.
Poor Hamish was feeling very sorry for himself. He had been licking the spot they put the IV in and it was red raw on both front legs so I had to put a pair of my brother’s soccer socks on him. He was still feeling the effects of the anaesthetic so he was very dopey for a while and he had to be kept quiet until his incision healed (not an easy feat for an 18 month old Dane).
Hamish healed very well and has had no lasting effects from his ordeal (apart from the umbilical hernia he had repaired at 7 months starting to show again). It has taught me a few things however.
1- Dogs don’t always chew their food properly so ALWAYS supervise when they are eating or chewing.
2- If you THINK there is something wrong with your dog, there probably is. You know them best and you are their voice.
3- Don’t settle for anything less than the best of care for your dog. If there is nobody there to supervise after major surgery, don’t feel too shy to take them somewhere else.
4- PET INSURANCE!!!! GET IT!!!
I hope people read this post as I hate to imagine what would have happened if I didn’t stick to my guns and insist there was something else wrong, even though I should never have taken him home after that first visit, it is not a mistake I will be making again.