We recently treated a patient at our Canning Vale clinic who had taken an unhealthy liking to a golf ball. Coppa, a 3 year old 60kg Bullmastiff, was brought in to us by his concerned owners for an examination after they noticed the golf ball he was playing with the day before was missing.

Our veterinarian Dr Ben Stewart gave Coppa a full physical examination and found that he had an elevated temperature but was still bright and alert. His owners hadn’t noticed any change in his eating or toileting habits, however they did feel he was not as playful as he usually was. At this point, the vet decided that the best course of action was to take some radiographs to determine if Coppa had definitely swallowed the golf ball and if so, where exactly it was located.

A dog’s stomach is designed to do all the work in breaking down bone and hair from a meal that they would normally eat if in the wild. For this reason, food and foreign matter can be in the stomach for up to 8 hours before starting to pass into the small intestine. Commercial diets are much easier for the stomach to process so these tend to pass more quickly. It was likely that the golf ball was still in the stomach because if it had began to pass into the small intestine it would have been quite uncomfortable for Coppa and we would have expected him to be more painful and unwell. The radiographs confirmed what we had suspected – Coppa had indeed swallowed the ball and it was still in his stomach.

In some cases if a dog eats an object that they shouldn’t and the owner manages to catch them in the act and get them to us in a timely fashion (while the object is still in the dog’s stomach), then we can administer a drug that can make them vomit and hopefully they will bring it back up. Even though it had been some time since Coppa had eaten the golf ball the radiographs showed it was still in his stomach so Dr Ben Stewart administered this medication and waited while it took time to work. Coppa did start to feel the effects of the medication and vomited several times but unfortunately did not manage to bring up the golf ball.

The only option left was to perform surgery to remove the golf ball as, due to its size, it was unlikely to pass through the rest of Coppa’s intestinal tract without causing damage and getting lodged further down. We performed a laparotomy where a large incision was made in the abdomen to access and expose the stomach, followed by a gastrotomy (an incision made in the stomach) to remove the foreign object.

Once the surgery was finished Coppa was moved to recovery where he was monitored closely by the nurses to make sure he recovered without complications. That night we offered Coppa a small bland meal which he happily ate and the next morning he was discharged from hospital.

The nurses stayed in touch with his owners and 10 days later at his suture removal appointment they reported that Coppa had made a full recovery and was back to his old self.

Unfortunately dogs and cats sometimes eat foreign objects that are not able to be digested and may cause an obstruction or damage to the gastrointestinal tract resulting in serious consequences if they are not removed. If you suspect your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t have, do not hesitate to contact us immediately for veterinary attention or advice.

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