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A Stone's Throw from Death - PDSA saves life of dog that ate 80 stones

Posted on Wednesday, 28 August 2013 11:32AM by

PDSA Senior Vet Jen Jackson with Star

 A Jack Russell’s fate was almost set in stone after she swallowed up to 80 pieces of gravel, which nearly killed her.

PDSA vets in Blackpool realised Star was on rocky ground after they could feel ‘crunchy material’ in her stomach. But they were left stunned when an x-ray revealed that the seven-year-old Jack Russell Terrier had wolfed down huge quantities of gravel - with dozens of them littered in her stomach.
Owner Tracy McCaul (49) had become worried about her beloved dog after Star refused any food for 24 hours and was barely able to move. She took the stricken dog to PDSA’s Blackpool pet hospital, where vets warned Tracy her pet would require risky surgery to remove the stones.
Jennifer Jackson, PDSA senior vet, said: “Star’s condition was very worrying – she could hardly stand and was extremely dehydrated. On close examination, we could feel something in Star’s stomach but when we saw the x-rays we couldn’t believe how many stones she had swallowed.
“It really was touch and go whether Star would survive – the quantity of sharp stones passing through her intestines was damaging them and given the possibility of them piercing her intestines, there was a danger of her developing potentially fatal peritonitis. We had to carry out emergency surgery to remove the stones and thankfully she has gone on to make a full recovery. ”
There is a name for this type of behaviour in pets – pica. Dogs use their mouth to explore objects as well as to eat them. Sometimes the two functions get confused and a dog will eat an object by mistake, even though it had only meant to investigate it.
Tracy, from Fleetwood, believes Star had eaten the stones while playing in the garden: “I was very shocked when PDSA told me she had swallowed so many stones, I just didn’t think it was possible. Star was kept at the PetAid hospital for several days and I was really worried about her.
“I’m so grateful to PDSA for the care and treatment they gave Star. Without them I don’t think she’d still be alive.”
Tracy, who also owns another dog called Mitzie, has since removed all gravel from her garden to prevent any similar incidents in the future.
PDSA sees many cases of pets eating inappropriate items every year. These can be fatal if they cause a blockage in the intestines. Owners are advised to speak to their vet for advice if they suspect their pet has eaten something it shouldn’t have.
For more pet health advice visit

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