Arthur is a one year old flat coated retriever. Like many dogs, especially puppies to steal things and eating them!!
He had stolen many items of clothing before, however, one sock proved one too many for Arthur!
Over the Easter bank holiday weekend Arthur was being sick repeatedly, his owners were used to this and starved him for 24 hours to allow his body time to recover. Usually he would vomit the item he had eaten and all would be well. However Arthur continued vomiting without bringing up any offending items and by Easter Monday he was very unwell and collapsed.
His owners rushed him to the surgery where the vet took an x-ray which showed a foreign object causing a blockage in his intestines. He was started on intravenous fluids and his owners were told he required emergency surgery to remove the object before his guts ruptured.
Arthur was anaesthetised and prepared for surgery. During the exploratory surgery the vets located the blockage and also noted that the intestines were starting to perforate. After removing the blockage (a sock), the affected area of intestine was removed and the 2 ends were sutured together. He was then started on intravenous antibiotics, painkillers and continued on fluids. The vets told Arthur’s owners that he was still seriously ill as he had the early stages of peritonitis (a severe infection of the abdomen.) Arthur was monitored closely overnight and throughout the following day.
Although he was bright and bouncy on the morning after the operation, he was unwilling to eat, and by Tuesday afternoon he was running a high temperature and was very quiet. A further x-ray was taken and it was clear something was wrong in his abdomen. His owners were contacted and they gave permission for another anaesthetic and further exploratory surgery. On investigation it was revealed that more intestine would need to be removed, due to the peritonitis and damage from the sock. After the surgery it was decided that Arthur’s abdomen would be left open, with swabs covering the wound, to allow the infection to drain fully.
Over the next 36hrs Arthur showed positive signs of recovery and seemed happy in himself. He began to eat small amounts of chicken and was going out for short walks. He was having his dressings changed 3 times daily. Each time he was asked to lie on his back for the swabs to be untied, the wound would then be cleaned and new swabs tied in place. Through all this Arthur was good natured and wagged his tail, a tall order for an adult dog let alone a puppy.
Unfortunately on Thursday afternoon Arthur went very quiet and didn’t want his chicken, it was obvious something wasn’t right. He was monitored closely and in the space of an hour his temperature had reached 105!!
The vet contacted his owners once again and explained what was happening. There was a lot of fluid draining from his abdominal wound and it was smelling infected – despite being on 2 different types of intravenous antibiotics. His owners were faced with the agonising decision whether to try surgery once more or whether to euthanase him. His owners decided to opt for further exploratory surgery with the agreement that if his organs looked to badly damaged we would euthanse him on the operating table. If there was a remote chance we were to try everything possible to save him.
Once again Arthur was prepared for surgery. The surgery revealed a small perforation in the intestines near to where the suture line was. More intestine was removed and re sutured. His abdomen was then flushed with over 4 litres of sterile saline in an attempt to flush any bacteria out of the abdominal cavity which was causing the peritonitis.
It was decided that if Arthur had any chance of survival he required stronger medication and a blood transfusion. He was sutured up from surgery and transferred to the prep room where he received a blood transfusion from Buddy a springer spaniel owned by one of our nurses. His medication plan was assessed and he was placed on 7 different types of medication including 3 sorts of antibiotics. He was placed in a recovery kennel. His owners were contacted and informed that Arthur was critically ill and the next 24 hours were vital, we had done everything we could and it was down to him now. He was watched carefully, being checked every 2 hours throughout the night.
Amazingly on Friday morning he was quietly wagging his tail, asking to go outside for a wee. A blood sample was taken to measure his blood protein levels. Proteins are required by the body not only for energy but also to repair tissues. Despite having had a blood transfusion Arthur’s protein levels were still dangerously low and not compatible with tissue healing. He required a plasma transfusion. His owner made a mercy trip to Plymouth to collect some frozen plasma.
After the plasma transfusion Arthur was constantly monitored and his drugs administered. His owner stayed with him and managed to tempt him to eat some chicken and a little recovery diet. Amazingly on Saturday the nurse was greeted by a dog wagging his tail and wanting to play!! They went for a walk around the car park enjoying the sun. On the return to his kennel while we were administering his many injections he was licking the nurses face and chewing her ear! He then proceeded to eat ½ a tray of chicken and a little recovery diet.
Everybody was thrilled, however we did not want to get our hopes up as we had been in this situation before. The fluids, medications and monitoring continued over the weekend and he became more and more like a cheeky puppy as each day passed.
The decision was made on Monday to discharge Arthur. He was sent home with an assortment of pills, a special diet and strict instructions to stay away from anything other than dog food!! He has since made good progress and looks to make a full recovery.
During all this Arthur was brilliantly behaved showing no malice and wanting to be loved by everybody, despite having numerous injections each day and multiple surgeries. He won a place in everybody’s heart.
The big question is has Arthur learnt his lesson……..?