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Posted on 02-05-2018

Case of the Month: Toby the Carpet Eating Minpin

Meet Toby! Toby is an adorable 11 year old Miniature Pinscher who presented to us for eating a part of a rug at home while his people parents were at work! Toby vomited up about 26 inches of fabric when his dad came home from work. After vomiting he was acting completely normal, ate his dinner without any issues, and kept it down the rest of the night. The next morning he ate breakfast and had vomiting eposiodes all over the house. Luckily for Toby his dad decided a visit to the vet was in order.

When he arrived he to our clinic, he was bright, alert, and responsive and did not seem painful when palpating his abdomen. Just to be thorough his vet recommended x-rays to make sure there was no other evidence of rug stuck in his stomach or intestines. Unfortunately, the x-rays showed signs of an obstruction meaning that there was something stuck in the GI tract blocking its contents from passing through normally. We even sent the x-rays to be looked at by board certified radiologists (they were sent “stat” to make sure they were assessed within the hour), and they agreed that there was very likely an obstruction and surgery was the only way to save Toby.

When dogs and cats eat string or long pieces of fabric, they can get what we call a “linear foreign body.” A foreign body just means any non-food item in the digestive tract. While it may seem like a string is small enough that it should pass through the GI tract without any issues, this is actually a very dangerous situation. Part of the string or fabric can get stuck in one part of the stomach or intestines while the rest of it continues to move forward. This can cause the instesines to start bunching up on itself like a drawstring in the waistband in a pair of sweatpants. When this happens, the string or fabric makes a sawing motion on the intestines and can actually tear or perforate the intestines. A perforation leads to leakage of intestinal contents (GI bacteria, digested food, and all) into the abdomen which is a life-threatening condition.

We knew we needed to act fast, so Toby was prepped for surgery later that day to remove the piece of rug from his intestines. We anesthetized Toby and performed an exploratory surgery. We palpated along the entire length of the GI tract starting at the stomach, moving through the entire length of the small intestines, and ending all the way at the colon to look for the foreign material. Bunching of the intestines had already started to occur in Toby, but luckily his family brought him in before there were any perforations. By making 2 incisions in the small intestine and 1 incision in the colon, 31 inches (almost 3 feet!) of rug were surgically removed from Toby!

Toby's family did a wonderful job nursing Toby back to health and following the important discharge instructions we gave them after his major abdominal surgery, and now he is back to his adorable self! His family will be removing all rugs in the house so that he doesn't have to go through a major procedure like this again! If you are concerned that your doggie or kitty has eaten something that you're not sure will be a problem, it is much better to call and see a vet instead of just waiting to see if it will pass through on its own.

Elaine McCarthy, DVM

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