Q: OUR dog has been to the vets this week for surgery. It is the third time he has swallowed a stone which got stuck and had to be removed. How can we stop this happening again?
A: It certainly sounds like you have a bit of a problem there! I hope he is recovering well from his operation as removing objects from the stomach or intestines that have got stuck can be a tricky surgery with several complications so he has done well to recover from the ordeal three times!
Certain dogs, if they have formed a habit of chewing and swallowing stones or toys, will sooner or later get one stuck.
It is very hard to remove the risk of swallowing stones altogether.
The same goes for any kind of foreign body, especially if it is edible eg bones.
If your dog is showing this type of behaviour it is best to get them used to wearing a muzzle when they are out.
The best kind is the basket type muzzle as this still allows them to open their mouth to pant and drink but the hard plastic mesh prevents them from picking things up and swallowing them.
I also often recommend these type of muzzles for dogs that scavenge food on walks and repeatedly get stomach upsets.
It is also essential not to throw stones as a game as this will only encourage the habit. This is particularly important in puppies as these bad habits often start off in puppies and are carried on to adulthood.
Other common foreign bodies include small balls, babies dummies and teats, bones and socks.
Most dogs will pick up scraps of food off the streets on walks if it seems edible, so keep them on a lead to avoid scavenging, particularly around shops and bins.
Only throw balls that are too big to swallow and make sure any toys given are durable enough to withstand chewing and aren’t going to be easily torn apart and swallowed.
Try and keep the floor space as clear as possible to try and prevent puppies swallowing household objects.
This is especially hard when there are children in the house, hence the high level of obstruction with children’s things.
The bill to remove a foreign body can be between £1,000 to £2,000 due to the intensive treatment and aftercare involved so if all else fails make sure the insurance is kept up to date!