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Julia’s Weekly Column For The Middy

An apple a day is not the Labrador way

When a dog feels sick, they can look absolutely wretched. And Ernie looked wretched.

Normally a bouncy and inquisitive Labrador, he arrived at the Clinic with no energy. I got none of my usual greeting – no waggy tail, no snuggles.

He had made several efforts to be sick, but now there was nothing left in his stomach. He was obviously deeply uncomfortable, and his sensible owner knew his listlessness was a bad sign.

As Ernie was still a young adult, I was already suspicious that his inquisitive nature might have led him to eat something that would have been better left alone. But he is a Lab – a breed renowned for their hoovering skills. Whereas some dogs might sniff something thinking “I wonder if that is edible?” a Lab is more likely to go right ahead and then think “I wonder if that was edible?”

Ernie allowed me an unusually good abdominal palpation. Many dogs tense their stomach muscles up when I attempt to feel the organs inside their bellies, either because they are in pain, or (I imagine) because they think the examination will hurt. But Ernie and I have known each other since he was a pup, and he has confidence in me.

So like a good fellow, despite feeling ‘as sick as a dog’ he let me palpate him and, sure enough, I was able to feel a firm rounded lump where none should be. He was immediately admitted for an x-ray, which showed a rounded white mass in the area of his small intestines.

This – and some other subtle changes – allowed me to confirm that he had swallowed something he shouldn’t. A few hours later we had removed a crab apple from his small intestine where it had become stuck, and he was soon looking around for his next meal.

So if you have the kind of pet who cannot help themselves when it comes to hoovering, be especially careful around fruit trees at this time of year. Not only will nosey parkers put themselves at risk of wasp and bee stings, but they may even need major abdominal surgery to save their lives if they try the fruit!

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