Curious puppy Nala was no stranger to Lort Smith. Surrendered to Lort Smith Adoption Centre in Campbellfield when her previous owners could no longer give her the care she needed, the excited puppy quickly became a much-loved addition to the shelter.
Rescue puppy finds a home
When Nala first found herself at Lort Smith Adoption Centre she quickly became a staff favourite and often cuddled up for pats while they worked. But it was during one of these cuddle sessions that we discovered a severely matted section of fur. ‘Oodle’ crosses and hypoallergenic dogs often don’t shed which means they have to be groomed thoroughly to avoid matting. Our team immediately got to work to gently remove what must have been an incredibly uncomfortable knot and found that the skin underneath had pulled and become infected. Once she was treated and fully recovered Nala was ready for her new home. Hypoallergenic dogs for adoption, like Nala, are often snapped up fast so it wasn’t long before she was adopted into a loving home with Kerry, her partner and their dog Molly.
But just a week later, she swallowed a sock…
Bringing a puppy home and the dangers of socks
Bringing a puppy home is a wonderful experience but it can come with challenges and many, many questions. Namely, ‘How do I stop my new puppy from eating things they shouldn’t?’ and ‘What do I do if they have swallowed an object?
Kerry’s partner had just come home from work and was in the middle of changing when Nala saw her opportunity to grab a new toy from his pile of clothing. She snatched a sock and dashed out of the room before either of her new owners could blink. When the couple finally caught up to the excited puppy, the sock had vanished. Suspecting she had swallowed it, but unsure as she wasn’t choking or acting like a sick dog, they rushed Nala from Geelong to Lort Smith’s Emergency Department in North Melbourne.
If a pet swallows something they shouldn’t, they may be in grave danger. Foreign body objects like socks can easily become lodged along the gastrointestinal system, causing issues such as severe dehydration, perforation, blockages, septicaemia or even death.
This is why the emergency team quickly sprang into action, using an ultrasound to confirm that she had in fact swallowed the sock and that it was still in her stomach. When inducing vomiting proved unsuccessful, Lort Smith Vet Dr Tristan Rich ordered an endoscopy. A procedure that involves carefully manoeuvring a small flexible instrument with a camera at the tip, called an endoscope, down the oesophagus and into the digestive tract to give a clear image of the inside of the body. The vet can then operate a small tool positioned at the end of the endoscope to gently grasp and remove objects while the sick dog is under general anaesthesia.
“We see multiple foreign body cases a day in cats and dogs. It’s very common and most of them get taken to surgery because the object has already moved past the stomach,” says Dr Tristan. “The endoscopy was much better for Nala because it is less invasive and reduces the chance of an infection. It’s far less traumatic and takes much less time, which is often better for the recovery of the patient.”
Dr Tristan removed the sock successfully and Nala was out of danger. She went home with her new family to rest after a long day. “We took Nala home that same evening and literally, the next day, she was good as gold,” says Kerry. We’re happy to report she is living the good life with her new canine sibling Molly and is being kept far away from socks.
At Lort Smith, we believe all animals deserve equal access to treatment. Whether we are caring for the animals in our shelter or pets who are brought to our hospital, we need the right equipment on hand to provide the best possible outcomes and reduce the need for costly surgeries or treatments that force many families to surrender their pets, particularly in tough economic conditions.
Lort Smith Animal Hospital does not receive any ongoing government funding but thanks to the generous and compassionate gifts of our community of supporters we are able to stand ready with the latest equipment and facilities needed to act quickly.