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House clutter can be deadly; RECORD PETS.


SHUT your eyes and think of an object. It can be any object, as long as it is light enough to carry and could fit in the palm of your hand.

Ready? OK. I bet you that sometime, somewhere, the object you thought about has been swallowed by a dog or a cat. I know you probably don't believe me, but it is true.

Dogs especially will swallow just about anything. I have a large list in my head of items I have surgically removed from the intestines of our pets. After 20 years, I now find it easier to put them into categories.

My first category is a load of balls: golf, ping-pong, squash, parts of tennis, bits of foot.

I include in this section my all-time favourite, which involved a Staffie that looked initially like it had a ball stuck at the back of its throat. However, this actually turned out to be the round end of a metal poker.

Anyway, on with my list. Items of clothing: socks (including a pair swallowed on Christmas Day, regurgitated on New Year's Day), tights (very nasty, tend to cause considerable bowel damage), pants (embarrassment factor for owners varies with style and colour ), a school tie and swimming trunks.

Also worthy of mention is an English Pointer that had three operations to remove pop socks from his bowel.

My next category is miscellaneous: batteries (AA, AAA, C and 9V. I only need a D for a full house.

I like batteries because they are easily seen on X-ray and you have to operate before they corrode. Coins, house keys, car keys, allen keys, condom, dummy teat, bulldog clip, paper clip, telephone cable clips (about 16 in one dog), peach stone, plum stone, avocado stone, common garden stone, stone from beach, wire, rope and finally a metal alligator.

Lest you are bored, I'll end with my least favourite list. These are the ones that really do damage.

This is because they unravel in the bowel and start cutting through it. We refer to them as linear foreign bodies for this reason.

They are difficult to diagnose initially because all you are presented with is a bright, happy patient that is not eating.

After a few days they get sore and sometimes you can feel a bunched up bowel in the abdomen.

You might also see this on X-ray. Even after the best surgery, the risk of overwhelming abdominal infection is high. So here goes:

Needle and thread and cassette tapes.

Yes that's it. That's the full list. Some of the most innocuous things.

But both have caused death, the former in cats in particular. The latter in puppies.

So please be careful and don't leave them lying around the house where your pets can get at them.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 30, 2006
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