My wife and I had a tough time last weekend when our eight-month-old Brittany rushed into our office, gobbled up a sewing pin and (despite our efforts to stop her), swallowed it. This happened on a Sunday night. I got on the internet and started Googling to see if I should try to get her to a pet hospital immediately. I stumbled upon two key articles: one that said try to help your dog pass the pin by bulking up his or her diet, and a second from a woman whose dog gobbled up 11 pins!
Gatsby (the dog that ate 11 pins) had to have surgery. I was worried our puppy, Maddy, might have to undergo the same since she’s small at 24 pounds. However, the first article I mentioned (which was posted by a vet), made me think Maddy would pass the pin if we gave her some extra food and some Karo syrup.
We did just that. We gave Maddy two extra cups of food, a spoonful of Karo syrup and some peanut butter. Then, we went to bed. When I woke up in the morning, I fully intended to go to work and just hope for the best. But there was this nagging thought in the back of my mind that I might come home to a seriously ill puppy.
So, I called the vet, and, of course, they urged me to bring her in immediately so they could x-ray her and access the pin’s location. Fortunately, they were able to get me in that morning. I emailed my office to say I’d be working from home/running out for a hour or so, then left with Maddy.
At the vet’s office, Maddy was happy as a clam, jumping around, wagging her little tail with her tongue lolled out.
“She certainly doesn’t look like she’s in pain,” the vet said, smiling. “We’re going to give her an x-ray to make sure the pin isn’t stuck in her throat.”
When the vet came back she pulled up the shots on a computer. It was easy to see the pin, and the vet said it was still in the top of Maddy’s stomach:
At that point, I was given two options:
- Try surgery first thing the next morning. The vet said she couldn’t operate at the moment since Maddy’s stomach was still full of food.
- Give Maddy some special, high-fiber food to bulk her up, and help her pass the pin – monitoring the pin’s progress with x-rays the next two days.
If we went the surgery route, the vet said they’d first try to get the pin out with a scope/camera (entering through her mouth). If they were able to get the pin out that way, the cost would have been around $600. If that didn’t work, they would have to open her up and surgically remove the pin. That cost would be somewhere around $1,200.
Option 2 was definitely cheaper. Buy the special food and hope she passed the pin. I opted for option two and walked out of the office having paid $230 for the x-ray and a bag of Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d food. The vet also asked me to bring Maddy back for an appointment in the morning to do another x-ray and check on the pin’s progress.
The rest of the day had me worried about Maddy (and, in the back of my mind, the cost of a $1,200+ surgery). When I got Maddy home, I gave her two cups of the special food. And I gave her two more cups that evening. The next day, when I took Maddy back, the x-rays came up negative! She’d passed the pin.
The vet seemed genuinely surprised that it passed so quickly. But I figure it had to be thanks to that first post I read online that said to give your dog lots of food to help them pass the foreign object. In the end, I’m glad we did just that. However, if you’re unsure what to do with your pet, call the vet first. Our vet told me that if Maddy’s stomach would have been empty when we took her in, it would have been a simple matter of scoping her and extracting the pin without surgery. All that food mixed up with the pin made that impossible.
In the end, it all turned out well. We walked away with $400 in vet bills, but at least we got some dog food out of it, and a puppy that’s no worse for the wear. Rest assured we’re going to work a lot harder to keep dangerous objects out of Maddy’s reach.
FYI: while Googling, I did find that there are several organizations that might be able to help with vet bills if your pet’s in need of surgery. I don’t know anything about them, but I figure posting them might help someone save their pet’s life!
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