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Intestinal Blockage and Abdominal Surgery in Dogs

Updated on May 15, 2016
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Linda Crampton is a biology teacher, writer, and long-time pet owner. She currently has dogs, cats, and birds in her family.

Ryan is happy but tired. Recovering from major surgery is hard work!
Ryan is happy but tired. Recovering from major surgery is hard work! | Source

Emergency Surgery in a Dog

My family had a frightening experience with one of our dogs a few years ago. One morning Ryan was fine; by the afternoon he was sick and in distress. He refused to eat or drink and the look in his eyes told us that something was very wrong. A visit to the vet and an x-ray showed that he had swallowed a sock, which was blocking his intestine.

The vet suggested that we wait for a short time to see if Ryan's body could expel the sock on its own. A second x-ray showed that the sock had moved only a short distance during the waiting period. Major surgery was necessary to remove the obstruction from the intestine.

Thankfully, Ryan survived the surgery and returned home. Although he initially required careful and gentle care, he eventually recovered completely. This article is a tale of our experience with Ryan and his sock, a description of intestinal blockage in dogs and a precautionary story for pet owners.

Ryan during a walk before his intestinal blockage
Ryan during a walk before his intestinal blockage | Source

Causes of Intestinal Blockage in Dogs

Ryan is a Leonberger, a breed that is often referred to as a gentle giant. He was five years old at the time of his intestinal blockage and had never shown any tendency to eat anything “illegal” (except for the cats’ food). We have no idea why he suddenly decided to eat a sock. Some owners are continually fighting their dog’s urge to eat unusual things and often find strange objects in their dog's feces, but we haven’t had this problem with Ryan. Eating just one sock was enough to cause him serious problems.

Frequent causes of intestinal blockage in dogs include the following items.

  • bones, rawhide and sticks
  • rubber balls, golf balls, marbles and other small balls
  • buttons and beads
  • toys
  • string
  • stones and pebbles
  • coins
  • peach pits
  • cloth
  • panty hose and socks
  • underwear
  • batteries (quite a common cause, according to our emergency vet)
  • cat litter (if eaten in a large amount)

There are other things that could be added to this list. For example, I've read about dogs who have eaten magazines, tampons, rubber bands, dental floss, the nipples from baby bottles and corn cobs.

Some objects are more dangerous than others. Items with sharp edges, such as bone splinters, may tear the intestinal lining or the lining higher up in the digestive tract. Batteries can leach poisonous chemicals if they're pierced by teeth. Metals and dyes may also be poisonous. String may wrap around intestinal tissue. Tampons will swell as they contact the moisture in the digestive tract, forming a bigger blockage, and so will cat litter.

Misha, my Labrador Retriever, and a healthy Ryan
Misha, my Labrador Retriever, and a healthy Ryan | Source

Possible Symptoms of an Intestinal Obstruction

There are a variety of symptoms that may appear when a dog's intestine is blocked. He or she may:

  • stop eating
  • stop drinking
  • have a painful abdomen, especially when it's touched (Use very light pressure if you try this.)
  • be bloated
  • be lethargic
  • drool
  • vomit
  • whine or cry
  • have problems defecating or have diarrhea

Each of the symptoms mentioned above can be caused by other factors besides an intestinal obstruction. For example, vomiting may be caused by an intestinal blockage or by other conditions, as described in the video below. All of the symptoms in the list require a visit to a vet if they don't disappear quickly or if they are severe.

Vomiting in Dogs

Treating a Canine Intestinal Obstruction

Some dogs are able to expel obstructions, but we should never assume that this will happen. Even if no symptoms appear, if you suspect that your dog has swallowed something that could block his or her intestine you should contact a vet. You need to find out if your dog needs to visit the veterinary clinic right away.

If a vet visit isn't immediately necessary, you need to know how long you can safely wait to see if your dog's intestine can expel the object. As you wait, examine your dog's feces to see if the obstruction has been released and watch your dog very carefully for symptoms that indicate an emergency. Your vet may give you tips to help move the obstruction.

If the dog is dehydrated, he or she may not be able to wait for treatment. After Ryan's first x-ray, his treatment involved intravenous fluids and walks to try to get the sock to move. The second x-ray showed that surgery was required.

My sister and Ryan at the vet clinic after the surgery; she's tired but happy that the operation is over
My sister and Ryan at the vet clinic after the surgery; she's tired but happy that the operation is over | Source

Abdominal Surgery in a Dog

The surgeon who operated on Ryan said that his intestine was inflamed and close to rupturing, so we are very glad that we had the surgery done when we did. Ryan's intestine was folded into an accordion shape. The muscles in the wall of the intestine continue to contract when an obstruction is present, creating a wave-like motion that normally pushes material through the intestine. This may cause the intestinal wall to bunch up next to the obstruction.

Abdominal surgery to remove a blockage is a major operation. We were told that the outcome would probably be favorable but that the surgery did involve risks. The surgeon said that sometimes when an obstruction was near the end of the colon (the main part of the large intestine) he could open the abdomen, squeeze the obstruction down the intestine and then pull it out through the anus without cutting the intestine open. Unfortunately this couldn't be done with Ryan's sock, since it was trapped in his small intestine.

We live quite close to a vet clinic that has long working hours and operates seven days a week. We also live near two emergency pet clinics. The situation would have been much more difficult - and possibly more dangerous - if we lived in a rural area.

Never try to reach into a dog's intestine yourself. Pulling an obstruction out of the intestine through the anus can be dangerous and may injure the intestinal lining.

Our cat Bennie and a healthy Ryan
Our cat Bennie and a healthy Ryan | Source

Recovery from Surgery

When he returned home after his surgery, Ryan was given an antibiotic, a pain reliever and a medication to reduce acid production in his stomach. He received two tablespoons of soft dog food multiple times a day, according to the vet's instructions, and also small quantities of water multiple times a day. We were allowed to take him for short, slow leash walks quite soon after the surgery. We had an Elizabethan collar (or cone) for him to wear to prevent him from nibbling his stitches.

It was wonderful to see Ryan showing an interest in the world around him and wagging his tail very soon after he returned home. One of the vets that treated him said that the first hours and the first day or two after the surgery were the most critical times, however, and that we couldn’t really relax until at least five days after the surgery.

It's important to watch for signs of a fever or increasing pain during a dog's recovery from intestinal surgery. These symptoms could indicate that fluid is leaking out of the intestine into the abdominal cavity. The cavity is lined with a membrane called the peritoneum which may become infected and inflamed by intestinal fluid. Inflammation of the peritoneum is called peritonitis and can be a very serious disorder.

Ryan wearing a cone (This photo was taken after a different situation from his intestinal obstruction surgery.)
Ryan wearing a cone (This photo was taken after a different situation from his intestinal obstruction surgery.) | Source

Preventing an Intestinal Blockage

Please don’t read this article about Ryan's adventure with a sock and think “I’m glad that my dog doesn’t do things like that”. Remember that up until his emergency Ryan had never done things like that either! Although most intestinal blockages occur in dogs that have shown a tendency to eat dangerous items, this isn't always the case.

It's very important to keep a home containing a dog tidy and to keep potentially dangerous objects and chemicals shut up or placed out of their reach. This is important if you have children in the family, too. When you take your socks off they need to be put in a drawer or in the washing machine - a step that we are very careful to follow now.

Toys should be too large to be swallowed by your dog. If you have cats in the family as well as dogs, consider putting the cat toys away after playtime to prevent the dogs from swallowing the toys, which are often small enough to enter a dog's esophagus. If your dog is showing a tendency to mouth dangerous objects like stones, it's time for some firm training to discourage him or her from doing this.

Hendrix Swallows a Rock and Wears a Cone

Financial Preparation for Pet Health Problems

Ryan was seen by our own vet, another vet in the same clinic who is experienced in abdominal surgery and a vet at an emergency clinic. His surgery and care were expensive, especially since the emergency clinic was involved.

The surgery was done at our vet clinic by the experienced surgeon. If the surgery had been performed at the emergency clinic it would have been even more expensive. Shortly after the operation Ryan had to be transferred by stretcher to the emergency clinic, however. The surgeon was concerned that he wasn't recovering from the anesthetic fast enough. The clinic gave him medication for pain and monitored his condition throughout the night.

I have a savings account for emergencies and I also put money into a dog fund every month to pay for vet expenses, so I was able to pay for Ryan's treatment. It took some time to recover from the expense, though. I do have a job, so I can slowly save money. I would hate to be in a situation where I couldn't pay for a major treatment that one of my pets needed. They are part of my family and I love them all very much.

If you have a pet, it's important to save a small amount of money on a regular basis to pay for vet visits. Begin as soon as the pet enters your family. A pet care insurance plan may be useful, but all plans should be investigated very carefully. A particular plan may not cover all of the problems that a pet may face. In some treatments, the larger the pet, the higher the vet fees.

Ryan taking it easy as he recovers
Ryan taking it easy as he recovers | Source

Preparedness and Peace of Mind

Hopefully you will never have to obtain emergency treatment for your pet, but it's important to be prepared in case this is necessary. Making financial preparations will give you some peace of mind because you will know that you can help your pet if this becomes necessary. Knowing the route to emergency clinics and the times when the clinics are open can also bring some peace of mind because it means that medical help can be obtained quickly if necessary.

We all hope that our pets will never experience an emergency. They may never develop a major medical problem in their whole life. If they do experience a problem, though, our plans to help them can increase the chance of a happy outcome.

© 2013 Linda Crampton

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    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm glad your dog has starting eating! Thank you for sharing the information.

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      Marc1969 5 weeks ago

      Just an update for you Linda and for anyone else reading the comments who might be dealing with this. My dog starting eating in the afternoon of day 4 and had his first bowel movement on day 6 after surgery.... a clear sign the surgery was successful. Our vet advises that due to the resection and now shorter intestinal tract he should be on a prescription low fat, high fiber diet from now on and no treats for a few months.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Marc1969. My dog's appetite didn't take long to return—a few days to a week if I remember correctly—but he didn't have necrotizing tissue. I would think that your dog's appetite would take longer to return to normal than mine, since he had more extensive surgery. If he doesn't start eating more food soon, though, you might want to ask your vet how long it's likely to take for his appetite to improve.

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      Marc1969 5 weeks ago

      This just happened to our Mexican hairless this week. He threw up Tuesday and a trip to the vet Wednesday morning recommended some nausea medicine and an X-ray, which showed a blockage. He was in surgery two hours later and also required a resection as the intestine had started necrotizing in that area. It's now Sunday and he is still doing ok but isn't very interested in food. How long before your dogs appetite returned?

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 8 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      James, I don't want to share exactly how much I paid for the surgery for a couple of reasons. First, the cost will vary depending on the part of the world where the surgery is going to be performed and perhaps on the dog's condition and the vet as well. Secondly, I don't want anyone who suspects that their dog has an intestinal blockage to avoid going to the vet because they think that treatment would be too expensive.

      As you can probably guess from the article and the comments that people have made, the surgery generally isn't cheap, but I don't know how much it would cost for a particular dog. The price might well be less for some dogs than it was for Ryan. A person would have to visit their vet with their dog to discover how much the surgery would cost for the pet (if surgery is actually needed).

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      James n socket 8 weeks ago

      How much would a procedure like this cost?

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for sharing the information, Bferg23. I hope Winston recovers soon.

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      Bferg23 2 months ago

      Just a bit of a PSA. I've had three labs and all three have had issues with this. Two required surgery. If you have any type of "NylaBone" dog toys or bones, THROW THEM AWAY!!! 17 years ago I had a yellow lab that I had given an "indestructible" Nylabone to and he got a piece stuck in his intestines, had to get surgery. So I swore I would never Nylabones again. 4 days ago, our lab, Winston, couldn't hold any food down. Took him in, sure enough an obstruction. Surgery. What did they pull out? A piece of a damn NylaBone. We have never given him one! So not sure where he found it or got it, must have been on a walk or dug it up in yard from previous owners' dog or something. He is home now and we will be eating Kraft dinner and hot dogs for the next five years due to the bills incurred. Throw away Nylabones and always supervise dogs with all toys. He isn't eating yet and is limping on his right hind leg, not sure what the limp is from, hopefully as he heals that goes away. But throw away NYLABONES!!

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Sally. No, Ryan didn't vomit after he ate when we brought him home. I think that you should contact your vet about the fact that your dog is vomiting and not eating. Best wishes.

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      Sally 3 months ago

      How many days it takes for your dog to fully recover? my dog just went through abdominal surgery ( about 12 days ago ) and she just returned home from the vet today. the vet told me that my dog's condition is already good and it's safe to bring her home, but she still vomits after she eats and now she doesnt want to eat. is it the same for your dog?

      well this article is 4 years old (and awesome!) but i hope you answer.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 5 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm glad that Ralph is continuing to do well, despite the reflux situation. Thank you for sharing your experience, Emma. It may be useful for other people in a similar situation.

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      Emma 5 months ago

      Thank you so much for your reply. We have had a worrying couple of days as Ralph has now started with reflux which is making him not want to eat the already no so appealing bland diet from the vets....today he is doing better and seems to only be burping and actually not bringing any fluid up. Vet didn't seem to worried as reflux can occur after this type of surgery...im just a bit concerned how much he is sleeping (he does get up and play for a few minutes) but then I just keep reminded myself he has just had major surgery and is bound to be tired. The vet said she isn't worried about the operation now as we are 7 days post surgery! Just want to start getting him back into his normal food that he loves! He is currently laying here dreaming!

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 5 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Emma. I'm glad that Ralph is doing so well. I would think that since he's doing well five days after the surgery the chance of him recovering completely is good, but I'm not a vet so I don't know this for certain. Hopefully the vet visit will reassure you. I can appreciate how worried you are! I know Ryan's initial recovery was quick, like Ralph's. He became happy again very soon after the operation. I can't remember exactly how long it took for his behaviour to completely return to normal, since it's been some some since the surgery, but I think it was about a month.

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      Emma Allen 5 months ago

      Hi

      Just came across your post when googling about intestinal surgery recovery. I'm so glad your dog Ryan made a full recovery that does give us all hope for these emergency situations! We have found ourselves in the same situation.....last week our best friend Ralph who is a cavapoo started vomiting in the morning but would then be fine....eating, running around on his walk etc....the next morning more vomit only this time accompanied by 'a prayer stretch' common when a dog has abdominal pain. As we no out dog does occasionally eat rubber from chewed up tennis balls left on the field (very annoying when people don't pick these up) we took him to the vets...they admitted him for a scan and found 2 pretty big bits of rubber from a tennis ball causing a blockage in his small intestine (he normally chews the pieces really small). They decided the best option was surgery and explained although a common surgery it is major surgery that carries risk. We were heartbroken as we nearly lost Ralph 2 years ago with sever gastroenteritis (He was in the vets for 5 days). Ralph pulled threw his surgery on Wednesday....and we are no currently 5 days post surgery and hoping we are now 'out of the woods' and can concentrate on slowly getting him better. He is eating normally and even wants to play and is wagging his tail in the garden (on a short lead) the only thing he is doing is drinking less but he is on wet food atm and is used to dry. Have checked him for signs of dehydration and he seems good. We have being sleeping the living room with him just to be extra safe and he tolerates his buster collar very well at night time. I just want to be able to relax a little bit and desperate for reassurance he can make a full recovery. He is at the vets in 2 days for a check up so hopefully they can help in reducing our stress! How many weeks was it until Ryan made a full recovery and you stopped worrying ? I feel like I cnt even go upstairs for a minute unless there is someone else watching him. We have also banned all visitors to the house for atleast a week! Sorry for the long post I'm just sitting here with him fast asleep next to me praying he gets there. Emma x

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 7 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm sure it was! I would be scared, too. I hope your puppy recovered.

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      sdfghj 7 months ago

      My 3 month old puppy ate a sock once. It was terrifying!!

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 7 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm glad that your dog is recovering, Shane. Elizabethan collars can certainly be helpful! Thank you for sharing the warning.

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      Shane 8 months ago

      Thank you for sharing your story! We are going through a similar situation. My dog had a piece of an orbee toy bone (durable rubber-like material) the world's most curiously durable dog toy, break off and he ingested it. Over night he experience diarrhea and vomiting. I took him the next morning to an emergency clinic where he had surgery. He has been home for one day and while his temperament has returned to normal, I find myself forced to use the Elizabethan collar so not only he leaves the wound alone but I find he restricts moving and walking around. Hoping for a quick recovery and that we never have to experience a situation like this again. My warning to everyone is supervise your dog's playing with toys, frequently inspect their toys for signs of wear or breaking and discard any potential risks, no toy is unbreakable and while the company who made the toy my dog ingested claims that small pieces are ingestible-large pieces can do serious damage to the intestines.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 8 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Kellie. Frankie is a young dog, which should help her to deal with surgery successfully. Vets have many techniques that they can use to help dogs with a medical emergency. Ryan recovered completely from his obstruction and surgery. Although I know there are no guarantees, I would think that Frankie stands a very good chance of doing the same. My thoughts are with you.

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      Kellie Witham 8 months ago

      Frankie , my female Patterdale terrier is currently in the vet hospital after having a piece of rubber from a dog toy removed from her small intestine. ..........She is on strong pain medication and Anti biotic. The hardest thing is not being able to visit her as this would cause her more distress. ......... We are terrified she won't make it. She's only 3 yrs old.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 8 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm sorry that Jada has to go back to surgery. That must certainly be hard for you. It's good that the leakage was noticed, though. It's important that it's treated. Best wishes to Jada and to you.

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      Michelle 8 months ago

      Our Jada ate some rope toy. Had surgery 1-23-17 but having some leakage from incision has to go back to surgery tomorrow. Extremely hard on all us.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 10 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Samantha. The things that you are doing for your dog sound great. You should ask your vet how much food and water your dog should be given and how often he should receive these items, if you haven't already done so. Having someone stay with your pet and stopping him from trying to go upstairs are important in the early stages of the recovery. Someone should accompany him when he needs to pee or pop, too.

      Best wishes to you and your springer spaniel. You'll probably find that each day is better than the one before.

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      Samantha banks 10 months ago

      Hello, I felt so hopeful reading this story your dog Is beautiful! My 7 month springer spaniel has done exactly the same thing! he has just got home after surgery, I'm totally freaking out! I'm trying to keep him comfortable and trying to keep him as still as possible. Im going to bring a mattress downstairs like you said as we had two flights of stairs. Is there anything more you could recommend about the recovering stage as the vet said it's the most crucial stage? It would be great if you could, Thanks

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 11 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Sanju. As a pet owner, I would say that if my dog was still vomiting after two weeks and after receiving treatment that there is likely to be a health problem that hasn't been addressed. It may not be a serious problem, but I think it definitely needs to be identified just in case it is serious. If your own vet doesn't want to explore the problem further, I would suggest that you see another vet. Thank you for your comment about Ryan. Best wishes to you and your Lab.

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      Sanju 11 months ago

      That's a beautiful article there and an adorable young dog! Well, I was just hoping you could help me out. So my Labrador is six months old and it looks like he's swallowed up a piece of his bone. He's been vomiting intermittently for the past 2 weeks. I've taken him to the vet and they have only given him anti-emetic and digestive tablets and tonics. He's a bit constipated. But apart from that he's perfectly active: no lethargy and quite the same excitement.

      I am only thinking of taking him to the vet again and ask them to do an x-ray. Super freaked out though. Your help would be great. Thank you. And all love to Ryan.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 11 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the comment, Elaine-Moore. It's great to hear about Luna's recovery. I'm happy to respond to comments on this article, but I often wonder what happens after the surgery and how the dogs are doing. It's lovely to hear about a dog's return to health!

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      Elaine-Moore 11 months ago

      Just a quick update to let you know Luna is doing great, she's back to her old self, playing with my other little dog Millie and generally causing chaos like any 5 month old pup should. Her wound has healed very well and she has been discharged by the vet.

      I will be thinking of Scrappy and Zaido and hope they both also make full recoveries.

      Alicia your article has helped many owners and potentially saved their dogs lives. I knew nothing about this problem despite owning dogs for many many years. Thank you again for sharing your experiences, it helps just knowing your not going through it alone.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 11 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm sorry for what you and Zaido are going through, Roger. My thoughts are with you both. I understand what you mean about a dog being a best buddy. I'm glad that your vet has discovered what the problem is, which is half the battle. Best wishes to you and Zaido. I hope Zaido makes a quick recovery and soon feels better.

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      Roger Gamboa (Philippines) 11 months ago

      I have doberman named Zaido. He is now with the vet and scheduled for operation tom. He was not able to poop for a week and began eating less 4 days ago. The vet found out that his large intestines contained hardened poop that caused difficulty in defecating. I am glad that i came across your article. It gives me hope for Zaido. He was with me since birth. He is my best buddy. Despite his looks, he is very adorabable and good natured. Please pray for his successful operation tomorrow.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 11 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm so glad that Scrappy's surgery went well and that this article helped you, Alicia. I hope Scrappy recovers quickly and well. I'm also very glad that both you and my family had the money available for the surgery. It's a big expense, but saving a pet's life is definitely worth the cost.

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      Alicia M 11 months ago

      Hi Alicia, My 10 year old shitzu "Scrappy" ate a sock and became ill, I rushed him to the ER they took xray and sent him home with hopes it would pass through, however hours later he was noticeably worse, shaking, withdrawn and not responding. I rushed him back to the ER and they repeated the xray and said the sock had moved but was now causing obstruction. I was faced with the decision of having emergency surgery $3,500. I had previously read you article while at the ER earlier that day and opted to have the surgery. I was a mess and cried so bad the staff were very consoling. Scrappy's surgery went well, he is still in the hospital and they are planning to release him tomorrow. Thank you for your article on Ryan, it eased my fears and saved my dogs life. :-)

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 11 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for sharing Luna's story, Elaine-Moore. I'm sure it will be helpful to other people. I hope that Luna feels happier very soon and that she recovers completely. It's always hard to deal with the fact that a beloved pet is seriously ill. I'm sorry for what you're going through and hope the situation improves soon.

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      Elaine-Moore 11 months ago

      Thank you for this article, it has helped me immensely as my little pup Luna is now going through this. Luna is a 5 month old Pomeranian/chihuahua and although all puppies chew I've never seen her eating anything she shouldn't. On Sunday I took her and my other little dog Millie for their walk, Luna was in fine spirits, running around playing and her behaviour hadn't changed. On the way home from our walk, walking slowly on the lead across the grass she suddenly yelped in pain and began limping. I carried her home and she ran into her bed. I could tell she was in pain, I could see it in her eyes. Me being the worrier that I am I had her at the emergency vets an hour later. The vet checked her paw and leg and couldn't find anything wrong so gave her a painkiller and off home we went. The next morning she was no better, she didn't want to move from her bed, when I put her in the garden she just lay down and started shivering. She was still limping and still obviously in a lot of pain. I took her straight back to the vets and they admitted her to X-ray her leg and do blood tests. All came back clear. They also noticed when examining her that her stomach was a little distended so they scanned her tummy and found she was rather blocked up and decided to give her an enema and then a barium meal so they could see if the dye/meal went through her system normally. 18 hours later the barium dye was still not moved through so she had more images and saw a small foreign body. She had surgery Tuesday were they removed 2 small pieces that were described as rubbery. They kept her in for about 30 hours and I collected her yesterday. It has been a nightmare, the stress and worry made me feel ill too. She is thankfully insured so I didn't have to worry about the financial costs. When I went to collect her I was half bursting with excitement to see her and half sick with dread at what state she would be in. She looked much better than I'd expected but still very unhappy. She didn't even wag her little tail. When we get home she hid in her carrier and wouldn't come out. When she finally emerged a few hours later she was so wary and kept running back to hide. She was also sounding very raspy I'd imagine this was due to the tube they put down her throat, it's almost stopped now. Today she's started to settle again, coming to get cuddles and she's eating well. A few little mouthfuls every few hours. Then when I had to give her her pain meds she reverted back to hiding and cringing when anyone goes near her. She's been through so much and she's sore and frail and so wary of getting hurt. After days of prodding and poking and painful procedures it's like we have to earn her trust all over again. She keeps trying to go upstairs and jump on the sofa etc so I can't take my eyes off her for an instant. It's early days but she seems to be slowly getting better. Fingers crossed she makes a full recovery. It was a shock thinking my dog had hurt her leg but ending up needing surgery for an intestinal blockage. She had actually slightly bruised her leg but if she hadn't hurt her leg and been admitted for tests etc then it could of been much worse. She hadn't shown any signs anything was wrong except that she wasn't eating much for a few days, but like a lot of very small dogs she is fussy and I hadn't worried . But by the day of the surgery she had started retching. If it had been left longer the damage could have been much worse or heaven forbid she wouldn't be with us now. Still a way to go until she is completely out of the woods but it's helped to write it down and I hope my experience with Luna may help someone else going through it with their beloved dog like your story helped me.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 13 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Best wishes to you and Jenna, Leonie. I hope your dog recovers well.

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      Leonie. 13 months ago

      Very interesting data. We have just had our labrador operated for plastic object obstruction. Keeping fingers crossed our beautiful Jenna will survive and come home to us safely.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 15 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I hope all goes well with your dog, Shannon. It's good that today's vets can be so helpful in treating our pets.

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      Shannon 15 months ago

      Thank you for this! My dog is suffering and your article hit home! She has an obstruction and has lost a lot of weight. We're on it! Thank you again, Shannon.

    • AliciaC profile image
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      Linda Crampton 16 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm glad that Ranger's surgery went well. It's always good to hear that a dog has recovered from an intestinal blockage. My dogs don't like wearing cones either, but they are very helpful. Good luck with preventing Ranger from swallowing anything else undesirable!

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      Ranger's Mom 16 months ago

      Well we are on day 4 after surgery. Ranger swollowed a dish rag whole. Gulp and it was gone. We gave it a week to pass but when he started vomiting after eating x-rays showed it was still there. Surgery went well. Ranger is wearing an e cone which he hates but it is a necessity right now. I can tell he itches so the healing has begun. He swollowed a sock once and did throw it up but no luck this time. Im going to have to figure out how to keep him off the kitchen counter.

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      Linda Crampton 17 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Lily, if this was my dog I would phone a vet clinic or an emergency clinic immediately and ask a vet for advice. Since tampons swell up when they absorb liquid they can definitely create a blockage. I think that it's vital that you contact a veterinarian in order to know what you should do to help your dog. Good luck!

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      Lily 17 months ago

      My dog (husky- 60lbs) accidently ate 4 used tampons. It was while I was away and he somehow got into them... I'd say a couple hours ago.

      I don't really know if anything is wrong yet, he has urinated but not pooped, but he is sleeping more than usual..

      Help!

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      Linda Crampton 18 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Andy. I know from my experience that sometimes the period after surgery can involve problems. It's good that vets today have so many helpful treatments that they can use. I very much hope that your vet discovers why your golden is having problems and is able to help him. Best wishes.

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      Andy j 18 months ago

      My 7 month old Golden had this surgery 2 nights ago. They had to make 4 incisions in his small intestine. He is still not responding as he should. The vet wants blood work and Xrays today. .. :(

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      Linda Crampton 18 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      My best wishes to you and your dog, Bonnie. I sympathize with anyone in this situation. As I said to Diane above, I'll be thinking of you both. I hope you hear good news soon.

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      Bonnie 18 months ago

      My dog is in emergency surgery right now, waiting for the call to say he made it through..he has a foreign object in his stomach, he loves to eat but does not usually it anything but food, I thought....thank you for your article, just knowing we are not the only ones going through this and your doggie made it through helps..thank you

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      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm so sorry about what you are going through, Diane, and wish you and your dog the very best. I'll be thinking of you both during this difficult time. Golden retrievers are wonderful dogs.

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      Diane Waddington 2 years ago

      My 8 year old golden ate a sock in November and had surgery to remove it, they just massaged it out. Two days ago he had surgery to remove a knee high rubber boot. Ate the entire boot, except for the buckle, the inner sole and some lining. Much harder surgery had to cut his abdomen and stomach up to get it out. Not out of the woods yet. Keep praying

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      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Natalie212. I'm sorry about your dog's experiences, but I'm glad that the true cause of her problem was found and treated. When Ryan had this problem, someone stayed with him and we provided lots of cushioning for him to lie on. If your girl's discomfort continues, you might want to phone the vet's office to get suggestions for making her feel more comfortable. Good luck. I hope your Lab feels better soon.

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      Natalie212 2 years ago

      What a great and informative article. My black Lab has returned home from the vets today after undergoing intestine and stomach surgery to remove two stones (one the size of a potato in her stomach and a smaller one in her intestine) I wish I had seen this article when her symptoms started on Sunday. She was extremely restless and wouldn't stop being sick, I initially thought it may have been something she had eaten as I had researched her symptoms and most sites recommended to starve her for 24 hours. However I wasn't convinced and phoned the emergency vet that evening. She gave her an anti-sickness and checked her tummy and listened to her gut as anything trapped would be indicated by gas trapped. There was none of these symptoms so we returned home only to return the next morning on the vets advice as she had not improved. She was then X-rayed and rushed in for emergency surgery. They kept her in over night due to risks of infection and she has just returned home on Tuesday afternoon with antibiotics, painkillers and anti acid tablets. She is very whiney and restless. Does anyone have any tips on getting them to settle as I can see she is uncomfortable but doesn't want to lie on her bed. Thanks!

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      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, kellz2015. As far as we know, Ryan didn't have permanent intestinal damage from his adventure. He recovered completely and ate normally once he recovered from the surgery. Best wishes to you and your dog. I hope everything goes well and that he recovers as well as Ryan did.

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      kellz2015 2 years ago

      Hi,

      This article was extremely informative, I was very happy to see it. We are experiencing the same issue with our Doberman. He had the surgery this morning and they told us that he had some damage (heavy bruising) to the intestines because it was in there for a few days. Did your dog have any intestinal damage caused by the sock? They said they won't really know it was a success until a few days goes by and he is eating and able to digest the food properly. Any information would be helpful! Thanks again

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      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm so sorry that you are going through this situation as well, Kae. Ryan didn't experience leakage from his incision, at least as far as we know. When he came home, we didn't allow him to climb stairs for a while. We live in a house with the main living area upstairs and a basement downstairs that connects to our garden. We moved a human mattress downstairs so that Ryan would have good cushioning when he lay down. Someone stayed with him almost constantly as he recovered. He did recover well. I hope Foster does the same thing.

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      Kae 2 years ago

      Great article, thanks so much for sharing your story. Unfortunately we're going through a similar situation right now. Our beloved two year old pup had emergency surgery to remove a sewing needle from his stomach. Like you dog Foster is not the type to eat non food items and I have no earthly idea how and where he would've found a needle. He's been out of surgery now for about 10 hours and still at the vet. So far he has been experiencing some leaking from the incision sight. Did Ryan experience this at all? Also you mentioned that your vet said the 5 day mark is when they're out of the woods I was hoping you could just elaborate a little and give and update on how Ryan recovered? Thanks so much for the info.

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      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for the comment, liz. Best wishes to you and your dog. I hope things go well for him or her.

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      liz 2 years ago

      Thank you so much for this article. Our dog just went thru this today.

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      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, LL. Thanks for the comment. I'm sorry that your dog is going through a similar situation to Ryan. Ryan was in the hospital for a total of three days, moving between our own veterinary clinic and the emergency clinic. On his first day at home after the surgery it was easy to keep him quiet, even though we have another dog at home. Ryan didn't feel like doing much at this stage of his recovery! After the first day at home he felt better and it was more difficult to persuade him to rest. We kept him separated from the other dog for a while, but this stage wasn't necessary for long.

      Thank you for sharing your experience, which may help other people. Best wishes to you - I hope your boy recovers well.

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      LL 2 years ago

      What a great article you wrote! My 4 year old pug had his abdominal surgery yesterday and they had to go into his intestine. We have 3 pugs but this boy is one that never eats things he shouldn't. What caused our boys blockage was a Brand name Nylabone! He had bitten off chunks somehow and had three good sized chunks in his stomach and intestine, don't use the soft Nylabones.....even for small to medium breeds! They are keeping him overnight because he just isn't doing as well as they had hoped. I'm a mess! He was pretty sick for a couple of days and I wish I bad I would have taken him in sooner, before he became so run down. If anyone suspects their dog may have eaten something they shouldn't, just get them in asap. I never imagined this is what was going on with our little guy....but as you said, it can happen to any of our dogs at any time!

      May I ask how long your dog was at the vet and if it is difficult to keep them relaxed at home afterwards? We do have the other two that are younger but I plan on keeping them far apart until he is on the mend. I hope he improves so I even get that chance!

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      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Sauhard. I'm glad you got the stone removed from your dog! Apart from the advice given to me by my vet, which I've shared in this article, I can't offer any more suggestions for post-surgery care because I'm not a vet myself. I suggest that you contact your veterinary clinic if you have any questions. I hope your lab recovers well.

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      Sauhard 2 years ago

      hey hi,

      I have a lab who did the same thing , instead of sock it was a stone, we had his surgery 3 days ago, looking for better advice on post-operatic treatment....hope u can help me. thank you

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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Kurt, I know how you feel. Remember that today's veterinary surgeons are very well trained and skilled. They have many techniques to help dogs during surgery and afterwards. I've only just seen your comment, so I hope that everything is going okay by now. Best wishes to you and your dog.

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      Kurt 3 years ago

      My soft wheaten is currently in surgery now for this issue. I'm a wreck hoping he will be okay

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      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the comment, DDE. I love dogs, too!

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      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Pets with health issues can be a problem without proper care. This hub is most helpful and informative. Dogs are my best pets.

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the comment, Peg. I appreciate it. That must been a very scary time for you when Tony had intussusception. I'm so glad that he recovered. Losing a pet is a horrible experience, especially when it's due to illness or injury.

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      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Amazing story and beautifully told. These types of unexpected hazards are something to watch out for. Long ago our vet told us not to give our dogs rawhide chewies for this reason. We had a similar experience with our new puppy a few years back. It was plain to see that something was definitely wrong and naturally, the vet asked us each of these questions on the video. Tony turned out to have intussusception and had to have emergency surgery. He's doing fine now at 3 years old, but the going was rough for a while.

      Your dogs are absolutely beautiful and this hub should be required reading for all pet owners.

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for the comment, ignugent17. It is a difficult time when a pet gets sick. For many people a pet is part of the family.

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      ignugent17 4 years ago

      This is really very useful. Sometimes we just don't know what to do if our pets get sick. Thanks for sharing this information.

      Your pictures looks so sweet.

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, heidithorne. I lost my golden retriever (Sam) to lymphoma too. When I was ready to get a new dog I wanted to get another golden, but after reading about the high rate of cancer in the breed I decided against it. I didn't want to face the horrible and very sad situation that I had with Sam again. Sam was a special dog in my life. Thank you very much for sharing all the information and advice!

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      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      I have a similar story! I'm on the Board for an animal shelter foundation. And when we lost our one golden due to lymphoma, we were searching for another playmate for our other dog. Then on a lucky St. Pat's Day, I got a call from the shelter that about a 1-year old golden (although I swear he's a mix, like half goat) had arrived at the shelter and would be up for adoption. He had just one "little" problem... before he had arrived at the shelter, he swallowed a scarf and was recovering from emergency surgery.

      When we did a meet & greet a few days later, he was running around and playing. You wouldn't have guessed he had chunks of his digestive tract missing. After he came to live with us, it took months and months of careful monitoring of diet to find the right mix that wouldn't upset him. Today, he's doing fine. But we have to watch him like a hawk! No stuffed toys, only Nylabones and Kongs.

      I'd also highly recommend pet insurance! After a $5,000 emergency vet bill over one weekend about a decade ago, I've invested in it ever since. Sure, it doesn't cover 100%, but it does cover a chunk of costs if something bad happens. I always get the cancer rider, too, since goldens have a high incidence of the disease (I've dealt with some form of it in at least 3 dogs).

      Glad to see I'm not the only one with a dog who thinks he's a garbage disposal!

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm very sorry that you lost your dog, DMVinSD. Dogs can be such good friends. It's very sad when they die, especially when this happens before the end of their natural lifespan. Thank you for the visit and the comment.

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      DMVinSD 4 years ago from San Diego

      Great hub . . . much appreciated. I lost a dog due to a back up in the mid intestines which caused toxic shock. Great info here

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      The range of objects that dogs have been known to swallow is certainly amazing! Thank you very much for the comment, drbj. Ryan seems to be doing well. He's having his first post-surgery check-up today, so we'll see what the vet says.

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      drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

      Hope that Ryan is well on his way to a full recovery, Alicia. You, too! Cannot believe all the various and sundry items you listed that dogs have been known to swallow. Compared to batteries and underwear, socks would be a cinch!

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, sallieannluvslife. Misha is actually a Labrador retriever. Several people have thought that he's a mixture of a lab with another breed after seeing him. Your mom's dog sounds amazing! No wonder he had so many vet visits! Thank you for the comment and the votes.

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      sallieannluvslife 4 years ago from Eastern Shore

      I am so happy that you were able to find out what was wrong and that your beautiful Ryan is doing better! Very informative hub, especially to all of us who adore our dogs. I saw your picture with Misha...what kind of dog is she? Looks like part boxer, part lab...that is what our Maddie is and they look very much alike! My Mom had a Weimeraner that used to eat everything....he was terrible about snatching food - so quick you didn't even know it until you turned for one second and suddenly your sandwich disappeared. He ate stockings, tampons, underwear, baby rabbits, whole loaves of bread....he was awful....Mom had him at the emergency vet all the time....then she put cans on her counters and put everything up and away....that helped a little, but he was still able to get to bathroom trashcans when doors were left open and pull off the sheets from the desks....but we loved him anyway! Voted up and Useful!

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      It's sad to lose a dog so young. I know from my own experience that a new dog can never replace one that has died. It is nice to have a new dog friend once the initial sadness of losing the first dog has passed, though.

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      Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Thanks Alicia - it took the vets by surprise too - he hadn't presented as a classic case of blocked intestines and only one object had shown up on the xray. I was gutted to lose him so young.

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I am so sorry for the loss of your dog, Nettlemere. It must have been a horrible shock when the vet reported what he or she had found inside Moby's intestine. It's a very sad time when we lose one of our pets.

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      Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      I'm really glad it worked out alright for your lovely leonburger. I had a similar but strange case of intestinal blockage with my own dog Moby. Unfortunately when he was opened up it became clear he'd eaten a series of things over a period of years (including a baby's bottle teat and I have no children!) - possibly from before I got him and his intestines had tried to somehow seal the foreign bodies off - it was a terrible mess and I had him put to sleep because the chance of a successful outcome was minuscule.

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Hi, Stina Caxe. We try to control our dogs' diet carefully too. Unfortunately that didn't help us in this case! Thank you very much for the visit and the comment.

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      Cristina 4 years ago from Virginia

      I am sorry this happened to your puppy. Wow, a sock?! That is something I have never heard of before. My aunts dog once ate a chicken bone out of the garbage which got stuck in her intestines and required surgery. I am very strict about what my dogs eat and I forbid anybody to give them things like bones. Unfortunately I get a lot of people trying to convince me there is no harm in it. Perhaps next time I will direct them to this hub!

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you so much for the comment, the votes and the share, vocalcoach! I appreciate them all.

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      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Ryan is really something. A beautiful dog. Thank goodness this has not happened to my dogs. You've given excellent information about this and I hope people read it and learn from your well-written article. I know that I have! Up, useful, awesome interesting and sharing.

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks, Bill. I'm glad that your dogs haven't eaten such a strange object as a sock!

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've never had this happen to a dog I've owned, but great information about the subject.

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you, Vicki. It is amazing - and often puzzling - that dogs eat so many different and unsuitable objects. It is definitely important to make financial arrangements for a potential vet visit in the future!

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for the lovely comment, tillsontitan! I appreciate all your votes and the share. You are so right about not knowing what dogs are going to do next - they are a lot like kids in that respect!

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      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Four broken legs in a lifetime must have been a challenge, Deb, especially when they each required surgery! I didn't know that a greyhound's broken leg couldn't be set. Thanks for the visit and the information.

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      Vickiw 4 years ago

      This is such an informative and interesting Hub Alicia. Had no idea that dogs would eat such an assortment of non-edible items! I think in view of this, your tips on saving for the dreaded medical help are great advice too.

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      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      This was excellent Aliciac. Your description and details are very informative. Also, your advice is top notch. Dogs are a lot like kids and you never know what they are going to do.

      Your explanations of the vet visit and surgery were right on as well. You supplied us with enough information to know exactly what happened without being boring.

      I have to say, your pictures were great and Ryan is a beautiful dog!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and very interesting. Shared with fellow hubbers as well.

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      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Amen to that! You never know when something critical like this might happen. I used one have a pair of Italian Greyhounds. One of them was prone to leg breaks, so had four of those to handle in his lifetime. Those thin legs can't be casted, it is always surgery.