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Tale of a Rock Hound: Be careful what you pour onto gravel!

With the super bowl just behind us, and Punxsutawney Phil predicting an early spring, grilling season is fast approaching.  With this comes the necessity of cleaning and disposing of the grill grease from the grease trap. This can lead to some hazards for your pets, especially hungry young large breed dogs.

Case in point:  Bailey.

Bailey’s owner called our office last week reporting that she had eaten some crushed rock.  Bailey, a year-old labrador retriever female, ate the rock after a family member emptied the grease from the grill directly on a crushed-stone patio.  Apparently, grill-grease-flavored rock is too tempting a delicacy for a young Lab and when her owner had her back turned, Bailey proceeded to nosh on the gravel. At first it wasn't clear that this was a problem because Bailey actually ate a little food the next morning. She later vomited some rocks, and also passed some in her stool.

We recommended that she bring Bailey in. In the exam room Bailey seemed to feel good, but was a little lethargic (perhaps feeling a little "weighted down" wink wink).  When her abdomen was checked, it felt gravelly' not unlike squeezing a stress ball.  Based on  the history of eating gravel and exam findings we took some X-rays:


The big white area is a stomach chock-full of crushed stone, and the other smaller areas of white are the individual stones trying making their way through the intestinal tract. The chance of all those jagged pebbles passing is extremely small. There also is a chance that one or more of them could perforate the intestine.

After confirming the diagnosis, the operating room was prepared, and a preoperative blood screening was run on Bailey. Fortunately, all of the values were normal, and shortly after receiving some IV fluids and pain medication the rock-eating wonder was prepared for surgery.

During surgery the stomach was opened up, and nearly 4lbs of crushed rock was removed! Ever wonder what crushed rock looks like in surgery after coming out of a dog’s stomach?  Well, here you go:

We are glad to report that the patient is doing well.  Here she is, approximately 4 lbs lighter, after surgery:

Tim Harmon DVM (2/9/2016)

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