Even ‘safe’ pet toys can be dangerous

Trooper TLC postopTrooper is a four month old Labrador puppy, who wasn’t feeling well. He was vomiting and not eating well.

His owners took him to an emergency clinic and x-rays revealed something that looked suspiciously like a foreign body. The veterinarian recommended surgery, which I performed at Berks Animal Emergency & Referral Center.

During surgery, I found hard foreign body stuck in the small intestine. The green arrow shows what the intestine should look like – small. The yellow arrow shows how the intestine is distended.

Trooper intraopThe moral of the story? You should always monitor your pets’ toys! No toy is completely safe. Trooper’s owners did an excellent job of puppy-proofing the house: trash was secured, dirty laundry was inaccessible, and there was no way Trooper could get into something that would hurt him.

But they did not realize that a toy this hard could be chewed to pieces and swallowed. Lab puppies are masters at finding and eating things they shouldn’t!

Luckily, Trooper had a happy ending. He pulled through very well after anesthesia and surgery. In fact, he started eating just a few hours after waking up.

The x-ray shows typical gas bubbles of various sizes and shapes and a potential foreign body.

The x-ray shows typical gas bubbles of various sizes and shapes and a potential foreign body.

The toy that Trooper chewed up and swallowed.

The toy that Trooper chewed up and swallowed.

One incredibly lucky dog

Marley faceMarlee is an adorable four month old female Labradoodle, who was constantly licking her lips.

Her family took her to the emergency vet whose first thought was something might be stuck in Marlee’s mouth or throat. An exam under sedation confirmed the suspicion: there was a string wrapped around her tongue. He gently pulled on it, but it was stuck.

Marlee had a classic “string foreign body” or “linear foreign body.” It typically goes down into the stomach or intestine. Once it reaches the intestine, the string can cut into it and cause leakage of its content. This causes peritonitis, which can be deadly.

I performed Marlee’s surgery at Berks Animal Emergency and Referral Center. Marlee’s belly was opened up in surgery. Her stomach was full of food. Luckily, the intestine did not seem to be affected, which meant the string was stuck somewhere in the stomach.

Marley string around tongue

You can see the string wrapped around Marlee’s tongue before it disappears down her esophagus and into the stomach.

I felt around, but it was impossible to recognize anything because of the amount of food. I asked the anesthesia nurse to gently pull on the string from inside the mouth. It was stuck. If the nurse couldn’t pull the string out, our only other option was to open the stomach, and dig around until the string would be found.

At the last second, just before I cut into the stomach, something slipped between my fingers and I distinctly felt a round foreign body slide from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube between the mouth and the stomach).

This stroke of luck allowed the anesthesia nurse to gently pull on the string. Little by little, she managed to pull two feet worth of string through the mouth!

Marlee recovered beautifully! She woke up smoothly after anesthesia, and by the time of her staple remove two weeks post-op, she was completely back to normal.

The offending string was two feet long.

The offending string was two feet long.



Shattered femur causes problems for German Shepherd

Harper vertical cropHarper, a 6 month old female German Shepherd, had a small problem.

Lots of small problems actually.

Her femur, or thigh bone, was shattered. You can see two large pieces at the break, and multiple small pieces in the middle.

I performed a surgical repair at Berks Animal and Emergency Center & Referral Center, using 1 pin, 2 wires, 9 screws, a stainless steel plate, and a bone graft! You can see the fractures and the repairs in the x-ray images below.

After 6 weeks of strict confinement, it was time to play in the snow!

A view of the femur, immediately before surgery.

A view of the femur, immediately before surgery.

Another preop view of the femur.

Another preop view of the femur.

Here is Harper immediately after surgery.

Here is Harper immediately after surgery.

A lateral post-surgical view.

A lateral post-surgical view.

Harper 6 week AP

An x-ray six weeks after surgery.

Six weeks after surgery, Harper's x-rays look much better!

Six weeks after surgery, Harper’s x-rays look much better!

How walking your dog makes your life better

Walking In The SnowDo you struggle to maintain a healthy weight? What about your dog? There are serious health issues that result from being overweight, but walking with your pet can help both of you!

The good news is that even moderate lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the risk or severity of many diseases. And a gentle, low-impact activity like dog walking is one of the most enjoyable ways to start making these changes.

If you or your dog suffer from joint pain, walking will increase muscle strength around the joints, giving them extra support. Walking brings oxygen to your heart and muscles and increase circulation. Regular exercise can help lower your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol, a one-two punch that lowers the build-up of plaque in your arteries and keeps your blood flowing smoothly.

Walking with your dog helps you mange your weight and reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes. Regular physical activity helps you fall asleep faster and deepens your sleep, which in turn reduces stress and boosts your energy levels.  Importantly, regular exercise bolsters your immune system, which safeguards against chronic and severe diseases.

Many of these benefits apply to your dog as well. With so much to gain in health and well-being for both you and your pet, it is well worth starting on a dog-walking program. Whatever the condition for you or your dog, walking can ease you both into a higher level of fitness and health.

Want more tips and info on the benefits of walking for both you and your pets? My book Walk a Hound Lose a Pound has everything you need to create a healthier lifestyle for you and your four-legged best friend!

Trusting a hunch saves Corgi from unnecessary surgery

Jules faceJules is a cute and incredibly sweet Corgi mix, who is understandably totally spoiled rotten by her owner (it just means Jules is much-loved)!

Sadly, she had a tibial crest avulsion, or broken shin bone, shortly after turning 4 months of age. Because the fracture was minimally displaced, we tried to skip surgery. Two weeks later, follow up X-rays showed that the fracture was significantly worse!

Jules was scheduled for surgery at Berks Animal Emergency & Referral Center in Shillington, Pennsylvania after the holidays. We were literally about to make an incision in the skin when I had a hunch. Something didn’t feel right. I thought that we should repeat X-rays and know how the fracture was before jumping into surgery. We moved Jules from the OR to the X-ray room.

Amazingly, the fracture had healed enough on its own that I decided to abort surgery.

Jules’ owner writes: “I am so very thankful to Dr. Zeltzman for helping out with my puppy Jules, who was scheduled for surgery this week. Before beginning surgery, he listened to his gut feeling and decided to re-X-ray her leg to make sure it hadn’t improved with rest. Much to everyone’s surprise, it had! Jules and I are both so very grateful that he did that rather than go directly into surgery. Thank you, Dr. Zeltzman!”

After a few weeks of rest, we’ll start to increase Jules’ activity progressively and she’ll be in top shape in no time!

Jules Dec 7-2015

The December 7 x-ray shows the broken shin bone.

Jules Dec 24-2015

An x-ray on Christmas eve shows the fracture has gotten worse.

Jules Jan 5-2016

A late Christmas gift! By 1/5/16, the fracture improved so much, Jules didn’t need surgery.