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The Dog That Ate Christmas

On the 27th of November, Cuddles the dog started to vomit at home and became very lethargic. Her owner noticed that a Christmas decoration, which she had been playing with, had gone missing.


She was immediately taken to her regular veterinarian where she was placed on a drip, and given pain relief, antibiotics, and anti-vomiting medication. Despite this care, when Cuddles went home, the following day, she continued to vomit. Her worried fur-mom then took her to the local Animal Emergency Centre for further investigation.



At the Animal Emergency Centre, radiographs were done, which confirmed that there was an obstruction in Cuddle’s gastrointestinal tract. Exploratory surgery of Cuddles’ abdomen was then performed to remove the obstruction. During the surgery, the vet found the missing Christmas decoration: two balls connected by a ribbon. One ball was lodged in her stomach, and the other had travelled further along her small intestines, with the attached ribbon still connecting both balls. Unfortunately, this had caused some damage along the way, and she needed multiple incisions into her intestines as well as her stomach to remove the Christmas decorations.


Cuddles’ body had been through a lot and this required hospitalisation for an extended period after her surgery. During this time, along with other intensive treatments, she was given two plasma transfusions, pain relief, antibiotics and IV fluids, and monitored very closely.


After four days of intensive care at the AEC, Cuddles was able to eat and drink again. With an increased level of energy, she was much happier in herself. Soon enough, Cuddles recovered well enough to return home just in time to celebrate Christmas with the rest of her family.


Aside from common poisons such as snail pellets, insect baits and gardening chemicals, household items such as Christmas decorations and ornaments can also present a danger to pets. Dogs especially are at risk due to their tendency to chew on objects that can become lodged in their gastrointestinal tract, as seen in this case.


Prevention is often the best cure, so to avoid unnecessary stress during the festive period, it is important for owners to be vigilant for potential swallow hazards when introducing new items into their environment. Always be aware of what your pet may be chewing on and if they begin to show symptoms of having swallowed something they should not have (i.e. vomiting), take them to your nearest animal emergency hospital for precautionary radiographs.


The emergency vet team will be able to advise of the outcome and recommend the next step for treatment.


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Animal Referral & Emergency network is the largest specialty and referral network in Australia, consisting of over 20 sites. With over 1,200 dedicated team members, including over 600 nurses and over 390 veterinarians (including specialists and registrars), we provide exceptional care for your pets. Count on us for expert medical attention and comprehensive veterinary services.