River’s Stick Incident

Following a walk, her owners noticed that River, a lovely five-year-old crossbreed, had a stick in the right side of her mouth. She managed to break it and appeared to have removed it herself but later that day she started being sick. She then became lethargic, went off her food and developed a fever.

Her owners took her to their local vet straight away and they gave her anti-sickness and other medications. They also performed an ultrasound scan that made them concerned about a foreign body in her abdomen.

River was then referred to our Internal Medicine team in Winchester for further investigation. She had various blood tests and a CT scan, which revealed that she had in fact swallowed some of the stick which had perforated her stomach wall and embedded itself in her abdominal wall.

The only option was for River to have surgery, which the owners agreed with, so she was transferred immediately to the care Anderson Moores Soft Tissue Surgery team.

Rob Quinn a Specialist in Small Animal Surgery and Kate Holroyd a Clinician in Small Animal Surgery took her straight into theatre for a laparotomy (a type of exploratory surgery on the abdominal region). During this surgery they found a 1cm wide perforation caused by the ingested stick, which had adhered to the body wall.

Fortunately for River, the adhesions had prevented any leakage from the stomach into the abdomen and once these were debrided (removal of the damaged tissue), the stick was successfully removed.

River was hospitalised, with our nursing teams looking after her day and night, and she started eating within 12 hours of her surgery and was discharged the following day!

River recovered very well, and her owners are now more aware of her love of sticks and the damage they can cause, so she has softer toys and is learning to ‘leave’!