Meet the adorable Jack, a 10-week-old male Labrador who has had a bit of a bumpy start to life. Jack recently visited his local vets as his carer was concerned about his tiredness, his lack of appetite and the severe vomiting and diarrhoea he was suffering with. Jack’s brother also had similar symptoms, but Jack seemed far worse. Despite Jack’s local vet providing supportive care with intravenous fluids and antibiotics, Jack continued to deteriorate and was referred to our Emergency and Critical Care service.
When Jack arrived at the hospital, he was very subdued for such a young puppy. When we examined his belly (abdomen) it was clear Jack was in a lot of pain. To make Jack more comfortable, we gave him intravenous fluids, antibiotics, pain relief and anti-nausea medications. To investigate what may be causing this pain, we performed an ultrasound of Jack’s abdomen. The ultrasound showed he had a problem with his small intestine – a condition called intussusception. This occurs when one segment of the small intestine ‘telescopes’ inside another segment causing a blockage. This blockage causes a reduced blood flow, or for the blood supply to be cut off entirely, to that part of the intestine, and the tissue to die. This can be a life-threatening condition requiring emergency surgery to remove the affected gut.
Jack was therefore anaesthetised and prepped for surgery. Our Soft Tissue Surgery Team performed a procedure called an exploratory celiotomy. This is where we make an incision into the abdomen to examine all the internal contents. The intussusception was quickly identified. In some cases, the intussusception can be resolved by pulling the two parts of the intestine apart. However, in Jack’s case, a large portion of his small intestine was no longer viable. This meant we had to remove approximately 30 cm of his small intestine. The surgery went well, and Jack was transferred to our Dog ICU to continue his recovery.
Jack made an excellent recovery from such major surgery and like a typical Labrador, he was eating normally within 36 hours. Jack was discharged into his family’s care to continue his recovery.
There are many causes of intussusception including gastrointestinal disease due to parasites (e.g. worms), ingestion of foreign bodies as well as viruses. Thankfully in Jack’s case, the long-term prognosis is good and there should be no future consequences of the loss of such a large portion of his small intestine. Everyone at The Ralph is very pleased to hear that Jack continues to improve and is settling back into family life with his sibling!
Stay tuned for more tales from Team Ralph!