When 15-weeks-old puppy Liffey came across a bottle top with the picture of a dog on it on her walk, she did what every self-respecting Labrador would do: she ate it, forcing her owners to rush her to the Oakwood Veterinary Referrals, near Northwich.
As X-rays showed the bottle top in her stomach, vet Ian Hopkins knew he had to act quickly before it moved on to the intestines and its sharp edges caused internal damage that would require invasive surgery.
He said, “With Liffey being only 15 weeks old at the time, we were worried that if the bottle top travelled out of her stomach to her intestines, the sharp edges could cause damage to her gut which would have meant emergency surgery to save her life.
“It’s always best to avoid surgery where possible in these situations because it reduces the risk of surgical complications and the length of stay for the pet in a hospital environment. In Liffey’s case, luckily her owners had acted quickly so after X-rays, we anaesthetised her while we put the camera down her throat.”
Ian was able to grasp the bottle top and take it back out through her mouth, with no consequences other than perhaps a sore throat.
“When I pulled the bottle top out, I saw it had a picture of a dog on it, which made me smile,” Ian said. “I wasn’t expecting that.”
Kate, Liffey’s owner along with husband Marc, said, “It was the worst and longest afternoon ever, I was in bits and very worried. But Ian was brilliant, he did a fabulous job and we were able to bring Liffey home that same day. As soon as Liffey came around, she was fine, you’d never know anything had happened to her.
“It was funny that the bottle top had a picture of a dog on it. We’ve got it hanging on the kitchen wall in a frame now.”
Ian, who carried out the same procedure many times, says he has an extensive collection of retrieved items by now.
“Socks and fabric items are relatively easy to get hold of with the snare and some things will pass easily through the animal’s system,” he said.
“I once had a case where a dog had eaten plastic from a football that had been inside its system for five months. Corn on the cob is another common one, especially in barbecue season as well as peach stones and underwear when dogs have raided laundry baskets.
“I’ve developed quite a collection of objects over the years.”
Images by the Willows Veterinary Group