Even a vet’s dog gets into big trouble…

May 6, 2014Riverbend Tales, Surgery
Author: David S. Thomson DVM

Tiny Tim is always in some kind of trouble – this little Pug tips over trashcans, eats boxes of Kleenex, and often jumps up onto the table, grazing on leftovers from dinner. He eats whatever is in the backyard and then vomits it back up on the carpet.

I regularly catch him up on a chair, front paws on the table, stretching for a snack. “Get down, Tiny!” I command. He good-naturedly hops down, knowing I will leave the room soon and then he can jump back up.

tiny-at-tableA few weeks ago, however, he really did it. At dinner, Tiny uncharacteristically lay under the table moaning quietly, his tail uncurled. “What has the boy eaten now,” we wondered. After dinner, we took him for a walk, and he vomited all of his dinner and looked much better. But he was not…

Later that night he began to moan again and occasionally yelp. At 2:00am, I called up Lynn and asked her to meet me at Riverbend. We drew blood samples and took x-rays. We could not detect anything obviously amiss, so we gave Tiny fluids under the skin and pain medication.

Tiny slept through the rest of the night, but early in the morning it was clear he still was miserable, and now I could feel something odd in his belly. I have the best staff in the world working with me at Riverbend. After sending out a few text messages, I had a surgical crew all set to come in on a Saturday morning. Within a couple hours we were operating on Tiny.


The troublesome dog had eaten cloth and string. One wad of cloth was in his stomach. A second wad of cloth was ten inches down the small intestine, tethered by a string to the cloth in the stomach. The string was sawing at the wall of the intestine.

By opening up the small intestine, I could cut the string and remove one wad of material. I opened the stomach, taking out the rest of the cloth and string. Then we flushed out the abdomen and sewed Tiny back together.

The take-home message from this case is when you are worried about your pet, call us or call the emergency service; don’t wait. If we had not operated right away, the string could well have sawed Tiny’s intestine open by the evening, spilling the contents of the intestines into the abdominal cavity. That would have been a disaster.

We are now a few weeks down the road, and Tiny feels great. We are more closely monitoring his activities and chaperoning his time out in the backyard. This past evening he was at it again…climbing into the dishwasher to clean off the plates. This Pug will never learn his lesson!


“You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, My God, you’re right! I never would’ve thought of that!”

Dave Barry, Columnist

“The good folks at Riverbend get all the stars! We can’t thank them enough for their expertise, care and kindness.”

Heather and Jessica, South Hadley

“No matter how long you have your pet, it is never long enough. A million thanks for all for the great care. You went above and beyond.”

Adele & George, Enfield

“I want to thank all of you for helping me thru this most difficult time. Peanut was so special and precious. Thanks again for your support and caring.”

Lorraine, Westhampton

“You were understanding of my fear and high level of anxiety throughout the process. I never felt rushed or dismissed at any question I had. Please know the wonderful impact you have in the world.”

Lisa, Wilbraham