Canine kebab: vets issue BBQ warning after pup's brush with death

Bear had a lucky escape after woofing down a kebab stick Credit: Abington Park Veterinary Surgery/MY Family Vets

Vets have issued a safety warning to dog owners after a ten-month-old puppy had a brush with death at a family barbecue.

German Shepherd Bear, from Northampton, managed to swallow a kebab stick and then had it inside her stomach for more than two months.

Vets at the town's Abington Park Veterinary Surgery were stunned that hadn't damaged any of the pup's major organs.

Bear's panoramic ultrasound Credit: My Family Vets

The unexpected item in the digestive area was only discovered when she started limping after it passed all the way through to her leg. 

Owner Richard Davidson, who lives near Kettering, was aware of the dangers after the family’s other dog, Labrador Keats, needed surgery having gulped down a corn on the cob on a stick from the kitchen a couple of years back.  

Dogs are so crafty when it comes to food and they are just so quick.  In this instance we didn’t even see her take it and don’t know if she sneaked it off someone’s plate. So, we didn’t realise that there was any problem at all. Months later she started to limp and then that gradually got worse. It became so bad that she wouldn’t walk on her back leg and we took her to the vets

Richard Davidson

It was successfully removed after an emergency operation. Now the vets at Abington Park, are worried that as people gather for post-lockdown barbecues there could be a rise in such incidents. 

“As soon as Bear came in and I did an ultrasound scan I could see the foreign body,” said vet Riccardo Minelli. “Although the leg was massively swollen, I had still been expecting something like a grass seed, not anything as big as the kebab stick. 

There was no wound or entry point, so it was hard to imagine how something like that had got in.   “The imaging showed that it was very close to large abdominal vessels and the femoral artery. I realised that surgery was required as there was a risk of haemorrhage if we tried to remove it non-invasively.

Riccardo Minelli

 And he added there is very real danger for pet owners as they look to enjoy the outdoors again after tough coronavirus restrictions. 

“We frequently see swallowed kebab sticks. It is normally stuck in the mouth, the oesophagus or the stomach. But if they do get to the intestine, the animal tends to be unwell quickly, which wasn’t what happened in this case which was very unusual. 

“With more people at home at the moment and perhaps having barbecues, there is definitely an increased risk. We’d ask people to be especially vigilant if they have dogs around and to contact their vet right away if they see their pet get hold of one of these things. 


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