I had just settled down to watch BBC Question Time last night (Dazmando was hosting the chat on my blog here as I was a bit late) when my wife drew my attention to a problem with our Cocker Spaniel Chess. My wife had been eating a piece of carrot and gave him the end (he eats virtually anything and loves carrot). My wife however was quite surprised to see that despite the fact the piece of carrot was quite large, Chess made no attempt to actually chew it and instead just tried to swallow it whole.
He then very quickly became distressed as it had obviously got stuck part way down and we then spent about half an hour trying to get him to throw the piece of carrot up. He kept trying but it just would not budge and he got more and distressed. In the end he was just lying on the ground and whimpering.
The only thing we could do was take him to the emergency vets which I discovered after calling the out of hours service is based in Farnham about 15 miles away. We jumped in the car and drove there as quick as we could. Once there, the vet confirmed that the carrot piece was stuck in his esophagus and she outlined the options which were:
1) Put him under short term general anaesthetic and then try and either pull the piece out with forceps (not likely to work as it was too far down) or more likely push it down towards his stomach. However the sphincter muscle that allows food into the stomach is quite delicate and can be damaged so this was not without risk. Even if it's too tight to push through it may go through naturally at that point once he is woken up. They would have to see.
2) Put him under a stronger anaesthetic and then either perform surgery on his esophagus to have the carrot removed, or if option 1) had already been tried but the sphincter muscle to the stomach was too tight and it would not pass through naturally, then major surgery to remove it from a very inaccessible place would then possibly have to take place.
None of these options were ideal and of course anything involving anaesthetic is not without risk. The vet (who herself has a Cocker Spaniel) said if it was her dog she would go for the first option as she would want to avoid surgery if at all possible as that is the bigger risk. However we had to give them permission to perform the surgery if it became necessary.
In the end we agreed with her approach, I signed the consent forms, we left Chess with them and went home.
Obviously we were both very worried but it was 12:30 in the morning by this stage and we both have work today so we went to get ready for bed. Just at that point I got a phone call from the vet who explained that she had had to leave Chess for a few minutes to attend to another animal who had been fitting and when she came back to get him to apply the anaesthetic she noticed a little pile of dog vomit next to him with a huge chunk of carrot in it. He had finally thrown it up himself! She said he was very happy and she had given him hugs and kisses. We were both so relieved.
I went straight back and picked him up. When we got him home he was very, very thirsty (unsurprisingly given how much fluid he has expelled) and still a bit out of sorts following the rather traumatic evening he had had but I managed to calm him down and he went to sleep quite quickly.
So apologies to all on the BBC Question Time Live Chat but hopefully this explains my sudden silence on the chat.
Oh and they gave us the piece of carrot to take home with us as a souvenir: