Dog dodges severe harm after inhaling wheat

Davies Veterinary Specialists

Anaesthesia, Diagnostic Imaging, Internal Medicine, Nursing, Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Professionals

12th September 2023

Dog dodges severe harm after inhaling wheat.

A routine dog walk through fields escalated into a medical emergency for a much-loved pet after he inadvertently inhaled a head of wheat.

Three-year-old cocker spaniel Rodger needed emergency treatment at Linnaeus-owned Davies Veterinary Specialists near Hitchin after the head of wheat began preventing air getting to his left lung.

Following what appeared to be an innocuous incident on a routine walk, Rodger began to experience abnormally rapid breathing and a severe cough, as well as being profoundly lethargic and anorexic.

After being rushed to Davies, a CT scan identified a large, plant-based foreign body, which was the head of wheat, inside, and largely blocking Rodger’s left main stem bronchus (the first major branch off the trachea which is also called the windpipe).

Rodger had emergency bronchoscopy (passing a camera into the lungs) which allowed the head of wheat to be identified then removed by Katherine Clarke, a specialist in a small animal medicine at Davies.

Katherine said: “When Rodger arrived at Davies, he was struggling a lot with his breathing and was very depressed.

“He was admitted into our intensive care unit and started on oxygen to help his breathing. He was also moderately dehydrated, thus was started on intravenous fluid therapy. At this stage we did not know the cause of Rodger’s acute onset, severe clinical signs.

“However, the cause became obvious once his CT images started to come through. Removal of the head of wheat from his lungs was relatively high risk because it could have caused a hole in his lung which would have been a significant complication. Therefore, throughout the delicate procedure to remove this, Rodger’s anaesthetic was closely overseen by a specialist anaesthetist.

“After the head of wheat was removed from his airways, as you would expect, Rodger significantly improved. He recovered from anaesthesia very well and no longer needed oxygen support.

“The following morning, he was almost back to his normal self, with just a mild cough, so he was allowed home. He has made a good recovery and has not needed any follow up appointments.

“I am very grateful to work as a part of such a brilliant team at Davies, from the radiologists who read his CT, to the anaesthetist who kept Rodger safe while I performed his bronchoscopy, to the nursing team who cared so well for Rodger before, during and after his procedure. We were all delighted with the outcome for Rodger and his family.”

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