Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chance's Upset Belly: The Case Of The Well-Hidden Obstruction

by Dawn Munger

Chance is a 4 y/o American Bulldog mix.

I volunteer at an animal shelter. About 3 years ago, a dog came in bleeding and scarred. The man who brought him drove all the way from a breed banned area to our shelter which is one of few that accept Bully breeds.

He said he thought the dog deserved a chance. That's how he got his name.

I took Chance out whenever I could and requested him for group walks. He'd lay in my lap in yard while I rubbed his belly.  He was in the shelter for 6 months and began to kennel-guard, so he got moved from the adoptable area to the back.

I knew his time was short so I asked to foster him. We did a dog-to-dog with my youngest Corgi, who's the only one in the pack who has issues with other dogs.  Especially bigger male dogs. He snarled and growled at Chance. Chance backed off and ignored the grumpy Corgi. With hesitation, they said I could foster.

In less than 2 weeks, I was a foster failure. Chance is a smart, goofy, playful dog who was in desperate need of training. In less than 6 months he earned his CGC.  We took Obedience, Rally-O, Tricks, Scent Work, and every class we could find. He did great in all of them. We're currently taking our 6th Agility class, which he adores. We've had some bumps along the way, but he's an amazing dog who puts up with 4 crazy barking Corgis and the household cat.  Because of the youngest Corgi's tendencies to get bossy, we taught Chance to carry a toy in his mouth while he's playing alongside the Corgis.  He does like to tear the sqeakers out and chew them up.  We've literally been through 100 or more of these toys without incident until last week.


On Friday morning, Chance was sick. 

He made it outside just in time to vomit. He threw up some food, grass, bile, and 3x3" piece of a rubber toy. Other than that, everything seemed fine. Chance went for a walk, ate his breakfast and his stool was normal.

By noon, though, he vomited his entire breakfast.

After that, he kept throwing up the rest of the afternoon; mostly foamy bile.

I gave him a little bit of chicken and rice, hoping that would settle his upset stomach. But he kept throwing up all night--food, bile and foamy bile. The next day, I took him to the vet.

An obstruction was a prime suspect.

However, x-rays showed no obstruction or foreign objects at all. Because he was dehydrated and not well, they kept him over night and gave him IV fluids and Famotidine.

On Sunday afternoon Chance was discharged from the hospital with Famotidine and Cerenia.

He seemed to had been feeling fine.

He went for a walk, ate his meal and didn't throw up. Pooped a small amount. Things continued to look well until Monday afternoon.

Chance didn't feel like eating much and started vomiting again.

I gave him some Pepcid. That stopped the vomiting, but he still didn't want to eat. By Tuesday afternoon he started throwing up again; even the Pepcid wouldn't stay down. Chance also seemed to have a hard time pooping.

This continued through the night, when he was vomiting foamy bile about every hour.

We were back at the vets first thing in the morning.

They did more tests. More x-rays, ultrasound ... no blockage found. Bloodwork was normal, pre-screen for Addison's was negative. But something was clearly wrong ...

They kept him in the hospital again. But in spite of all the meds and IV fluids, Chance was not improving.

You can imagine my worry and frustration.

Another negative ultrasound. The vets were convinced that blockage was not the problem and wanted to run an ACTH Stimulation test for Addison's disease. However, we insisted on a Barium study.

Barium has not entered Chances colon.

They took Chance to surgery to look for the problem. Lo and behold, they removed a 2.5" piece of the rubber toy, part of which Chance threw up a week ago.

The hospital is very good so I kept second guessing what I knew all along.  

Really? You want to test him for Addison's Disease when he vomited a piece of rubber and won't eat and can't poop?

On Thursday when we left the hospital, I was devastated. Chance looked so miserable, like I've never seen him before. I just wanted them to find SOMETHING. Why couldn't they figure it out?

After reading responses from the Facebook group Dog Health Issues, I was certain that they needed to do an exploratory surgery. I was SO relieved that the Barium Study finally showed what I knew all along.

I am grateful and relieved that they fixed my boy but still sad that he had to suffer a whole week.


  1. Oh wow! I'm glad they figured it out! And Chance is fine now?

    1. Chance is recovering well. Two days in the 14-day exercise restriction and he already wants to play and act crazy.

  2. Oh thats good news, dogs are so important to us all..its great of you to pass this information on!!!

  3. I underwent months of vomiting with my dog before eventually discovering the cure for her troubles myself. Sometimes gut instinct is the best thing.

    Here's hoping you'll join us for NaNo. We still need 15 more writers!