Toby is a 9 year old, male Pug who was being minded by carers whilst his owners were away. When they returned, Toby’s abdomen seemed more distended than usual and when they tapped on his stomach it seemed full of air. Toby had also had a lot of flatulence! His owners decided to bring him straight down to the clinic.
On examination, Toby seemed bright and happy. His abdomen was indeed distended especially in the area of his stomach. Upon palpation of his stomach he did not seem to be painful. Toby was admitted at this stage to have x-rays of his abdomen.
A blood sample was collected from Toby to check that he was not dehydrated and the result was normal. X-rays of his abdomen were abdomen were taken. The x-rays showed that his stomach and large intestine were full of food and gas! Because of the large amounts of food, there was a risk that Toby could develop gastric dilation or an intestinal blockage, which would be a medical emergency.
On discussion with Toby’s owners we decided to proceed with preventative treatment. Vomiting was induced using washing soda crystals and an emetic called apomorphine. Toby vomited copious amounts of undigested food. An antinausea injection was then given and Toby was sent home with a caution not to feed him overnight and watch for vomiting or diarrhoea.
Toby came back to the clinic the next day for a check up and he weighed 1.7kg less than the day before! He had been well overnight and on examination appeared to be fine. Toby was fed a bland diet over the next few days but made a full recovery.
Take home message
If you are leaving your pet with a carer it's a great idea to leave a ‘care record’ with them. Here's a suggestion of some of things you should outline.
Write down as much information about your pet as possible for the person looking after them.
- Pets often put on weight during their owner’s absence so provide a list of do’s and don’ts, where to buy, how much to feed and how often. Oh, and for little devils like Toby, a quick hint about their food fosicking skills (such as cupboard opening abilities).
- Medical complaints or medication needed to be given including regular preventatives eg. fleas, heartworm and treatments eg. Arthritis, heart medication. Also instructions on how to administer them.
- Habits that may be unique to your pet.
- Requirements for exercise and check that your carer has time to do this.
- Leave the contact details of your veterinarian for the carer of your pet, as well as a letter of authority for any medical/surgical procedures in case your pet needs veterinary attention while you are away (ask us for our Going on holidays handout which incorporates a consent form).
If the person caring for your pet has not owned a pet before or if your pet will be staying with a friend (not at your residence) it is a good idea to point out some basics.
- Your pets will require shelter from the elements such as heat, wind, cold, rain, hail etc.
- Feeding and preventing infestation from ants, wasps etc in the food bowl
- Dental care – give bones/chews to make sure teeth are kept clean.
- Provide water in several areas particularly if they will be left alone for lengthy periods of time
- Toilet facilities in numerous locations
- Dispose of faeces regularly to prevent fly infestations and zoonotic diseases (diseases humans can obtain from animals).