ONE advantage of living by the seaside is that the beach presents a lovely playground for dogs, especially if they are partial to the water.
However, it is not without its problems, as I was reminded when Molly the springer spaniel came into my surgery.
She had been off her food and was now being sick, signs that will often alert vets to the possibility that the dog has eaten something untoward.
Even so, I was quite unprepared for the clunking sound as I palpated her tender tummy. Her owner said she enjoyed playing with the stones on the beach but he’d never seen her swallow any.
However, our x-rays told a very different story, and a surgical operation recovered a sizeable portion of Worthing beach from her stomach.
Like babies, dogs readily explore their environment by tasting and, fortunately, if they do end up swallowing something they shouldn’t, most of the time it’ll find its way out again, but occasionally an object will become stuck.
At least stones and bits of bone have the advantage of being readily identifiable on x-rays, but items such as peach stones and corn on the cob are not and have rough edges which can damage the guts leading to peritonitis.
Bits of chewed bedding can go similarly undetected and end up causing an obstruction when they cause the intestines to concertina together.
The consequence is that sometimes we have to do an exploratory operation to check for foreign bodies, and although it can be frustrating if nothing is found, it’s better than the object being left with potentially fatal results.
Of course, it’d be far better if dogs didn’t go swallowing strange objects in the first place.
But although we can be careful when disposing of leftover scraps of food, and not throwing stones for dogs to catch, I don’t suppose we’ll ever stop our four-legged friends from doing what comes naturally, do you?