Veterinary charity the Animal Health Trust (AHT) has saved the life of a bull terrier called Larry, after a small piece of bone became wedged in his throat.
Owner Simon Bradford would normally treat his dogs with the occasional marrow bone, but on this particular day he noticed Larry wasn’t behaving quite himself.
Mr Bradford said: “I could tell immediately something wasn’t right when he was unable to digest his dinner. I quickly guessed it might have been the marrow bone.”
An emergency appointment was scheduled for the next day. Vets sedated Larry and tried to remove the large piece of bone with forceps. However, after several unsuccessful attempts at dislodging the chunk, the decision was made to transfer him to the AHT for further treatment.
At the AHT, Larry was anaesthetised to enable medics to remove the bone using an endoscope.
Daniela Murgia, head of soft tissue surgery at the AHT, said: “Sadly, in Larry’s case, the bone stuck in his oesophagus – a piece of knuckle – could not be removed using this technique. Instead, he had to undergo emergency surgery, which entailed opening up his chest, incision and reconstruction of the oesophageal wall, due to the severity of the situation.”
Larry was in surgery for approximately four hours, with Daniela working hard to save him.
“After a long wait we finally heard that Larry had pulled through his ordeal,” said Mr Bradford. “It was a huge weight lifted, but a real shock as to how much damage the bone had done.
“He’s well on the road to recovery now, but it has put me off ever giving my dogs any types of bones again – even one as assumedly ‘safe’ as a marrow bone.”
Daniela added: “Bones can be fatal if parts are swallowed whole. They can stay in the stomach for long periods and cause severe gastritis, or become stuck in the gut causing obstruction, which is also extremely dangerous.
“I’d urge pet owners to ensure they are aware of the risks that bones and other treats can pose to their pet, especially at this time of year.”