Bulldog Health: Foreign Body Ingestion

Everything goes into a bulldog's mouth... everything. No matter how hard we try to puppy-proof the house, little Miss Roxy seems intent on diversifying her culinary experience. Shoes, lawn furniture, plastic bottles, my obscenely expensive ergonomic task chair...nothing is sacred.

And forget Bitter Apple spray deterrent! To Roxy, Bitter Apple is nothing but an exotic spice. Fifteen bucks for a bottle of doggy taco sauce, as Roxy calls it.

Anyone with puppies is familiar with that dreadful silence...when the furball is occupying herself another room, seemingly in quiet contentment.

Nice puppy, you think, congratulating yourself on your superior training skills--all those episodes of Cesar Milan have paid off. Finally, you can catch up on your computer work.

Then all hell breaks loose, and no amount of "quiet, calm assertiveness" can help you.

What Roxy chose to chew on, one fine day, made me long for the glory days of her benign destruction, when all I had to complain about were mangled car seat belts and eviscerated sofas...what my baby chose to chew on was my pin cushion. The cushion was shredded, stuffing was everywhere, and the carpet was strewn with sewing pins. How a squat, 13-inch tall bulldog can jump and retrieve sewing supplies from a 32-inch high shelf is beyond me.

I rushed her to the nearest VCA animal hospital and was given two options:
  1. Do nothing. Maybe she didn't swallow pins, and if she did, wait and see if she can pass the pins herself
  2. X-ray to assess whether or not she did swallow pins ($200)
Knowing how chunky our bully is and how roughly she plays, letting sharp objects float around in her gut wasn't an option, and wasn't what the vet would have recommended--after all, if she did swallow some pins, then complications arising from them lodging in her gut and causing a perforation or infection seemed to be a costly way to save money in the short run. We got the x-ray. And we were glad we did, because the little meatball did have a large sewing needle in her tummy.

On to the next set of options:

  1. Wait and see if she'll pass it, and hope it doesn't get lodged and infected
  2. Induce vomiting, which is not guaranteed to dislodge the pin--the position may change, causing the pin to lodge itself in her esophagus, which would require more medical intervention
  3. Scope her. Pass a flexible scope down her throat to see if they can retrieve the pin. Not only would this be expensive, but there would be no guarantee that the scope can remove the pin. In addition, it would require anesthesia and there's the possibility that she could aspirate, since she had a tummy full of kibbles.
  4. Surgery to remove the pin. Yikes! Sure, we'd get that pin, but Yikes!
Funny how the prospect of a silly, drooly, farty baby being harmed can frazzle your ability to make a decision. I decided to call my husband, who happens to be a medical doctor, and he advised that we start with inducing vomiting...it was least costly, least invasive, and if it was ineffective, then voila!--at least then, we'd have a nice empty tummy, which would reduce the chances of aspiration upon scoping.

Roxy went willingly with the vet, her jowls stretched into a goofy bulldog smile, her but wagging. They fed her cotton balls soaked with chicken flavoring--which Roxy woofed with delight--then gave her an emetic to induce vomiting. This did not please Roxy, but in the end, the needle became entangled in the cotton balls, and when the cotton came up, so did the offending needle. Which we have kept, as a souvenir, right alongside her baby teeth.

So what have we learned from this ordeal? Prevention, prevention, prevention. Having Roxy is like having a 50 pound perpetual toddler, and despite Roxy-proofing the home, we must be ever vigilant.

Who knew there was a use for chicken-soaked cotton balls and barf meds would do the trick.
A few months later, while we lunched with Roxy at beautiful Kailua Beach, a visitor from the mainland approached us and asked if she could pet our bully. She was a veterinary assistant, and her clinic once conducted an informal study on what dog breeds swallow the most unusual items. English bulldogs were at the top of the list, ingesting random items such as toys and spoons.

Disclaimer: This is a chronicle of our bulldog's healthcare experiences, and is not intended to give medical advice. It is best to have all health issues evaluated by a veterinarian.

©2012 Tammy Yee